Category Archives: Appliances

Electric Stove Care

Electric Stoves

I don’t claim to be an expert at buying larger appliances like stoves, dishwashers or refrigerators. But I do know a thing or two about cleaning and care. A lot of people don’t know the the cons of owning a glass stovetop or not to use the self-cleaning function on their ovens. I do know how to take care and not ruin your expensive appliances, and also how to not ruin your food in utilizing them!

My clean stovetop!
My clean stovetop!

First I should probably start off by explaining the differences between a regular electric stove, a glass/ceramic top stove, and induction top.

Glass/ceramic are the same thing. Ceramic turns to glass when fired, so that’s why you hear these names used interchangeably. These stoves are beautiful, and I recommend them – if you don’t ever plan to cook on it. 😉

Glass / ceramic stovetop
Glass / ceramic stovetop

Why? They take forever to heat up. I had a customer come in and complain to me about his new copper-core cookware not heating up as fast as he was told it should. A co-worker of mine was dealing with the man and I happened to overhear his complaints. Yes, copper cookware should heat up relatively faster than normal aluminum-core cookware. So I stepped in and asked if he had a glass stovetop and he said that he did. “Did your other cookware take a long time to heat up, also?” Turns out that, of course, it did. So I explained to him it was his stove and not the cookware, because at the time I was actually renting a home with a glass stovetop and had a mix of aluminum and copper-core cookware, including the brand he was complaining about, and had the same problem.

Glass-top stoves also require non-scratch sponges to clean them, and can be quite difficult to clean unless you feel safe using a razor-blade on it. My grandfather owns one and refuses to crack eggs in the pan on the stove – he takes the pan off of his stove after it’s warmed up and cracks the eggs away from the stove because he says he always ends up dripping a little on the stove and has a heck of a time getting it off later when it’s burned on.

Induction stovetop
Induction stovetop

Induction stoves are not the same thing as glass-top. They are actually great if you can afford one! However, you do have to have relatively specific cookware in order to be able to utilize them because they work by magnetic induction. This means your cookware has to have a magnetic base in order to work on it. You will sometimes see people looking at cookware with a magnet in their hand and this is why. It only has to be magnetic on the bottom. The stovetop can actually be on ‘hot’ and you can pull the pan off and touch the burner and you will feel absolutely nothing!!! So you cannot use cast-iron cookware on an induction stovetop because cast iron does not have magnetic qualities. A lot of cheaper nonstick cookware will also not work on induction. Copper-core cookware actually works with induction the best – Chantal actually made their copper line specifically to work with induction.

Use and Care

Alright, so there you have it on those ‘other’ options for electric. Of course we are all familiar with basic old electric stoves (unless you’re lucky enough to have had gas your whole life, which I have not, so I will not even pretend to give advice there, and am also thoroughly jealous of you!)

One thing you really need to know when cooking on an electric stovetop is that all cookware manufacturers heartily agree that stove manufacturers make them TOO HOT! So, you should never, ever turn any of your dials all the way up to the ‘High’ setting. You should be able to successfully sear meat on a ‘Medium-high’ setting. I know a lot of you are probably impatient like me and just like to jack it all the way up to get things moving, but you should really just set it at the temperature the recipe calls for (unless it says ‘high’ because of course you are now going to always read that as ‘medium-high’, correct???) and wait and let it come to that temperature that way.

My dirty stovetop
My dirty stovetop

I take the burner plates off of the stovetop about once a month (or more if I make a huge mess!) and scrub them down really well. A lot of people don’t actually know that most stovetops lift up so you can clean under them. I wipe that all down and leave it open to dry for a little bit before assembling it again. This is where getting a name-brand stove comes in handy – easy to find burner plates to replace if you ever need to. You can actually find the plates at the Dollar Tree, of all places, but it’s not ever going to be guaranteed that they will be the exact right fit unless you get lucky or get them from the vendor. I believe Target and other stores of that nature also carry burner plates. These are both reasons why I had to purchase a new stove when I bought my home – the replacement burner plates did NOT fit it, and the top didn’t open up to clean underneath it. And clearly the previous owners didn’t understand the concept of cleaning a stove. I got it clean, but I couldn’t deal with my pans wobbling all over because the burner plates didn’t fit.

My stovetop lifted up
My stovetop lifted up

Now with the oven, what temperature you can go to will always depend on what type of cookware you are using. Most ceramic cannot go much over 400 unless you have something stronger that is high-fired, like Le Creuset or Emile Henry. Read your instructions! Anything over 500 or broil should be done in metal bakeware. I also strongly recommend investing a few dollars in an oven thermometer. A lot of ovens either don’t start out at the correct temperature to begin with or will at least change temperature over time. I remember with my mom’s old stove we had to always set it about 25 degrees lower than recipes called for because it got so much warmer over the many years she owned it.

As for the self-clean function – DON’T USE IT! Ever. Seriously!! When I bought my new stove two years ago the salesperson reconfirmed this notion with me. The self-clean function gets far too hot, and it will eventually burn out the electronics up above. This is the most common cause of broken stoves, people, so take heed! There are plenty of other ways to do it, and quite honestly, before I knew this, whenever I did have the opportunity to have an oven with this feature, I found myself doing the Easy-Off method first anyway because self-clean just bakes everything on harder. There is also the age-old trick of leaving a bowl of vinegar in the oven overnight to help loosen everything off. And I highly recommend getting an oven liner so that you really don’t ever need to mess with it. They are usually about $20 which seems high for something so small, but it’s worth the investment, trust me! You can easily wash them off in your sink with hot, soapy water and put them back into the oven.

Gas Stoves

OK, I only know that I dream about one day owning one and learning all the tips and tricks to share!! 😉

Slow Cookers

Slow cookers. Crock-pots. Is there a difference? No. Does it matter which brand you buy? Probably a little, but not really.

Rival Crock-Pot with manual switch
Rival Crock-Pot with manual switch

A little more detail! Crock-Pot is a brand name given to the original slow cooker (the very original name being the “Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker”) by the Rival Company when it bought Naxon in 1970. This can still be confusing, as seen by Google Shopping – it lists Crock-Pot and Rival as two different brands. Generally, you will see the little Rival logo above the Crock-Pot logo, but not always. The kicker? Rival is now owned by Sunbeam. My guess is that’s why not all of them have the Rival logo.

Ok, was that clear as mud? Simplified – slow cooker is the official term and Crock-Pot is a brand name. It’s like Kleenex and tissues. That’s the BEST kind of marketing, because it’s free! (Marketing major over here, kids.)

Alright, now that we’ve cleared that up, the next thing to discuss are the differences between all these slow cookers. Generally it will be the capacity size and how many buttons/cooking options are offered. All slow cookers will have an electric heating base, a ceramic cooking pot/crock (get it? Crock-Pot!), and a glass lid with or without a vent hole in it.

Kitchen Aid 6-qt. slow cooker
Kitchen Aid 6-qt. slow cooker

Capacity is clearly something you need to decide for yourself. How many people do you usually cook for? What types of things are you hoping to cook in your slow cooker? Remember, you can always make less in a larger vessel, but you cannot make more in a smaller one! You just need to adjust your cooking times and temps. 😛 Considering shape, there are both oval and round slow cookers. It might be easier to fit a small bird, a roast or other meat into an oval shape, but the choice is purely personal preference.

Cuisinart 3.5-qt. slow cooker
Cuisinart 3.5-qt. slow cooker

I think Cuisinart makes the smallest slow cooker at 3.5-quarts. This isn’t counting any of the smaller buffet serving warmers (key word ‘warmer’ – they don’t cook!), like the Slow Cooker “Little Dipper” 16-oz. warmer that usually only comes as a free gift with a larger slow cooker. (You can usually find them for sale alone at Goodwill, however!) Several brands make an 8-quart, which is the largest I think you can find. This is an improvement because a couple of years ago it was hard to find larger than 6- or 7-quarts.

Cooking options are generally very simple on most slow cookers, having 2-4 settings that include: Off, Warm, Low, High. Warm is not a cooking mode, it just keeps the food at temperature when cooking is done. Crock-Pot makes a lot of cool buffet serving warmers that only keep already cooked food warm – they don’t cook, but they’re great for people who entertain a lot!

Crock-Pot Hook Up series buffet servers - you can mix and match the pieces you want to hook to each other!
Crock-Pot Hook Up series buffet servers – you can mix and match the pieces you want to hook to each other!

Programmable slow cookers will automatically switch over to “Warm” mode after a certain amount of hours on a cooking mode, however, I have only come across one that will turn itself completely off. The Cuisinart programmable slow cookers all have an 8-hour “Warm” mode maximum, at which point it will beep five times and turn itself off automatically.

Ah, but alas, technology has caught up with us! I have discovered another one that you can control via an app on your cell phone! The Crock-Pot 6-quart Slow Cooker with WeMo. In searching through the manual and FAQs, it seems like this will be the first slow cooker that you could load food into and start at a later time – but beware, as the reason no one else has done this is for food safety reasons – you don’t want to leave uncooked food out for very long, so I think the idea behind this smart cooker is that if you’re running late, you can easily turn it off or down to warm until you can get home to it, not that you can dump everything in and leave it sitting out to spoil for a few hours before you turn it on.

Crock-Pot with WeMo (smart slow cooker!)
Crock-Pot with WeMo (smart slow cooker!)

Vent Hole in Lid

I can’t seem to find a reliable source of information from vendors or consumers about some slow cookers having vent holes and others not. I did find this site that claims, as many others do, that newer slow cookers run much hotter than those of the old days. So my final thought on the matter is that the manufacturers are adding these holes to prevent explosions. This isn’t a pressure cooker – you don’t want a perfectly tight seal, or else you will get a pressure build-up and potentially blow-up your dinner.

Hamilton Beach slow cooker with digital probe thermometer
Hamilton Beach slow cooker with digital probe thermometer

A lot of folks will encourage you to wrap your entire cooker and lid with aluminum foil to try and make the seal impenetrable, but the vent hole is too small to let THAT much moisture out that your food will dry out. You can always add more liquid if you notice your cooker is drying up faster than what the recipe calls for.

If you let your food cool inside of the crock pot, it can create a vacuum seal that can make removing the lid extremely challenging, so this is another reason for the vent hole. Some slow cookers come with a meat probe and the probe fits in the vent hole and rests there nicely.


Cuisinart multi-cooker
Cuisinart multi-cooker

Everyone is coming out with multi-cookers over the last couple of years, and depending on the brand, they can usually do at least three things – slow cook, brown/saute, and steam. Some can also bake, cook rice, roast, or even pressure cook! Since all brands and models are so new to the market I can’t fully back buying any one over the other. Cuisinart, Kitchen Aid, and Oster are usually good bets – I am pretty certain that Cuisinart put out the very first one and everyone else followed suit.

I do personally own a Ninja 3-in-1 cooking system, which is considered a multi-cooker because it has a slow cooker setting, a stovetop setting (brown/saute), and an oven setting (bake/roast). There is now a 4-in-1 that also has a steam setting.

So far I really like the Ninja – I’ve had it for almost a year and have used it quite a bit. I have personally never been much into slow cooking and when I finally got a little 4-quart Crock-Pot a couple of years ago, I hardly used it. I was annoyed by recipes that claim you can make things like pulled pork in your slow cooker and have it turn out like it normally would. (Maybe this happens for other people, but not me! Haha) And don’t get me started on using another pan and starting on the stovetop, then transferring to slow cooker….and/or transferring afterwards to the oven! No! Slow cooking is supposed to be easy, one-pot cooking in my mind. And the Ninja accomplishes that because you can cook the meat on the stovetop setting and then plop everything else in and turn it over to slow cooker mode. Roast a chicken then immediately make your stock! Beautiful!

Ninja 4-in-1 cooking system
Ninja 4-in-1 cooking system

That being said, I think any multi-cooker would bring me the same satisfaction. However, the downside is that all of these have nonstick aluminum cooking pots inside of them, which of course they all claim are dishwasher safe, but the dishwasher detergent is just too harsh for nonstick and I got scratches on mine after one wash. Lesson learned – I leave it out of the dishwasher now! So I would advise the same on any of these other multi-cookers, also. The ones with glass lids, at least the lid can go in the dishwasher (the 3-in-1 doesn’t, so I have to hand wash, but the 4-in-1 comes with glass). Kitchen Aid is elusive about the material of their cooking pot, but call it the “CERAMASHIELD™nonstick cooking pot with pouring spout” and emphasize that repeated dishwashing can reduce the effectiveness of the nonstick coating, so I feel secure in saying it’s probably also an aluminum pot with nonstick coating, just this specific brand of coating.

The Ninjas are both 6-quarts, as is the Oster brand. Cuisinart’s and Kitchen Aid’s multi-cookers are only 4-quart capacity. They all come with a small roasting rack included, and some of them have other accessories you can purchase to go with them, including a ‘stir tower’ for the Kitchen Aid model!

Kitchen Aid multi-cooker with optional Stir Tower attachment
Kitchen Aid multi-cooker with optional Stir Tower attachment


Read The Kitchn’s tips on what mistakes to avoid when using your slow cooker.

Food Processors and Mini Choppers

I am so glad that I waited to write this blog because Kitchen Aid just recently came out with their new model, so we can include that in the review. Huzzah!

Cuisinart mini choppers

Food processors can be pretty expensive, and a lot of the time you can do the same thing by hand or with a blender, so it’s a tough call deciding on whether or not you really need one. If you do a lot of food preparation, a food processor can save you sooooo much time in the kitchen, and it can do a lot of things a blender can’t do, so that’s a plus.

Mini Choppers

I want to start out by discussing mini choppers. A lot of people refer to these as food processors, but the distinction is that it only has a chopping blade, no discs for slicing or shredding. Most of these you’ll find are in a $20-50 price range and will usually just have two speeds. It might say “chop” or “grind” but in all honesty, they are just “fast” and “faster”. I mentioned these in my “Coffee Grinder” blog because a lot of people buy these to grind their coffee beans with.

Black & Decker ergonomic chopper
Black & Decker ergonomic chopper

Mini choppers are usually 2-3 cups in size, and like most larger food processors, can’t handle a ton of liquid. They are quite handy for small jobs, like chopping up veggies really quick or making a small batch of hummus or salsa. With the limited abilities of the mini chopper, I don’t think that brand really matters. Like with a big food processor, I don’t think any of these will work unless all the pieces are properly snapped into place, meaning you can’t accidentally chop your fingers or splash food everywhere. (If there’s too much liquid, that will probably escape and make a mess.) This is actually the one item Cuisinart does NOT put a 3-year warranty on because people so often misuse them. (Read: they should have purchased a blender or a real food processor and burned it out.)

Some immersion blenders come with a mini chopper attachment that the stick’s motor can power. These are usually one cup and not very useful, so I wouldn’t base your purchase of the immersion blender solely off of that optional feature.

Salad Shooters

Presto Salad Shooter
Presto Salad Shooter

I noticed a few of these while image shopping, so figured it was worth a mention. The term “salad shooter” is trademarked to the original product by Presto, so everyone else seems to call these “salad makers” or “mini food processors”. These machines contain rotating discs that “shoot” the end product out and you have to have a bowl or something to catch it. These only slice and shred, they cannot chop, but nonetheless, pretty handy.

Food Processors

Alright, so moving along to the big machines, the ones that do it all! Obviously there’s a larger motor, meaning a heavier base, so keep that in mind if you don’t have counter space! Having to get it in and out of a cupboard or pantry might be too much effort. 

Chopping blade
Chopping blade

Any brand of food processor will come with a metal chopping blade, a stem piece to attach the discs, and a slicing and shredding disc. Sometimes these are combined in a reversible two-sided disc, meaning you’ll only have one disc; one side shreds, one side slices. You will have buttons that say “On”, “Off”, and “Pulse”. “Pulse” will spin once and you have to keep hitting it repeatedly to keep the blade going. There will also be a feed tube and some sort of pusher to help push your items into the machine as well as prevent splashing. Sometimes they also include a plastic dough blade, as well. Like I mentioned with the mini choppers, they make these super safe, as they won’t work unless all pieces are properly snapped into place.

Cuisinart DLC-2011CHB
Cuisinart DLC-2011CHB

As for brand, that truly does matter with the larger food processors. The only choice, in my opinion, is a Cuisinart, and you can’t go wrong with any model. The motors they put on these things just don’t die! The kitchen store I worked at does a trade-in event annually, where you can bring in your old chopper or food processor, working or not, and get money towards a new Cuisinart. People would bring in 20 year old Cuisinart food processors and tell us that they still worked, they were just finally ready to upgrade to a newer model with more features. Color me amazed!

Remember my mantra: Kitchen Aid for stand mixers, Cuisinart for food processors.

Cuisinart also puts astounding warranties on the motors of their food processors. The warranties vary by model, but none are less than 5 years, most are 10, and some are as much as 20! Nobody else in the industry puts more than a 1-year warranty on their motors, so to me, it’s worth the money!

Cuisinart DFP-14BCN
Cuisinart DFP-14BCN

I’m not going to say one model is better than any of the others, with the exception of their newer models in the Elite collection! Those are the best, just because of the amazing features they have, which we will discuss very shortly. If you don’t have a need for all the new features on the newest models, older models still have amazing motors that won’t disappoint. You’re basically comparing what size work bowl you need for your home since they all pretty much do the same thing. There’s a 14-cup model that is less expensive than some of the smaller bowl models because it has a very basic design and no “Pulse” button, just two paddle buttons for off and on.

Cuisinart Elite 14 cup
Cuisinart Elite 14 cup

Ok, ok, so these Elite food processors. They’ve been around for a few years at this point, and I really don’t see the need to make any improvements. The standard food processor hasn’t changed much other than aesthetics and feed tube sizes getting larger or being multiple pieces. But the largest complaint about all food processors has always been the liquid fill line always being about an inch from the bottom of the work bowl, making it really hard to make soups and other liquidy things. Kitchen Aid had come out with a multi-bowl food processor, but using the small bowl always made a big mess in the larger bowl anyway, so what’s the point?

Cuisinart Elite 14 cup anatomy
Cuisinart Elite 14 cup anatomy

Cuisinart fixed that! They put a silicone ring in the lid so that the liquid fill line in both the large bowl and the mini-bowl (nonexistent for the mini-bowl in previous Kitchen Aid models) was almost to the very top of the bowl!! No mess in the bigger bowl if you wanted to use the small one for a little job. The Elite comes in a 12-cup model, which includes a 4-cup, as well as a 14-cup model, which includes both an 11- and a 4.5-cup bowl. The bowls all also contain a slight pouring lip to make it easier to pour the liquid out. Genius!

Julienne, shred and slice discs
Julienne, shred and slice discs

The next thing Cuisinart did was combine the slicing and shredding discs into multi-discs so customers didn’t have to a) purchase multiple extra discs and b) have extra clutter for all the different discs they owned. So the slicing disc has an adjustable knob that gives you 6 different thicknesses on the blade and the shredding disc is reversible with coarse on one side and fine on the other.

Multi-piece feed tube
Multi-piece feed tube

They also made the motors even stronger, so the largest size, the 14-cup, has a 20 year motor warranty. I should note that Cuisinart has always offered the largest feed tubes on their lids. Speaking of feed tubes, a lot of the brands now have multi-piece feed tubes, which confuses people. There’s multiple pieces so you can choose which piece is large enough for your food to fit through. That way if you have something small, you don’t have to potentially get splashed by using the largest opening to drop it into the processor. All two or three pieces have a flat base to act as a pusher for the food you’re dropping in, as well.

Kitchen Aid’s new model has copied all of these new ideas, which is great. I haven’t seen one in person yet, but have watched some demonstrations on TV and the silicone ring doesn’t look as thick as Cuisinart’s. Since they obviously couldn’t copy everything exactly, the way to adjust their slicing disc is a lever on the front of the base of the machine, not on the disc itself like Cuisinart (they’re calling it ExactSlice), so you can adjust the thickness mid-slice. 

New Kitchen Aid ExactSlice food processor
New Kitchen Aid ExactSlice food processor

Looking at specs of the Kitchen Aid machine online, I’m also noticing that their liquid fill line is only a little over the halfway point of the work bowl, whereas Cuisinart’s is almost to the top. I can’t see it on the mini-bowl, but it does say the smaller one can handle liquids, too. I was so excited by the prospect of them copying Cuisinart I almost bought one. Who can resist those fun colors?! But, it’s still expensive. And so, looking back at the warranty issue, I was convinced, personally – you might not care – of the quality and paying a bit more to have the luxury of knowing I will never have to make this purchase again in my lifetime.

Last (bad!) model of Kitchen Aid food processors
Last (bad!) model of Kitchen Aid food processors

One thing to note is that the Kitchen Aid food processor is extremely new and a lot of stores aren’t selling it yet. The last model of Kitchen Aid food processors were performing so badly that the kitchen store I worked at stopped carrying them, and looking at all of the big kitchen stores now, it looks like nobody currently carries any Kitchen Aid food processors at all. I am wondering if with all the aesthetic changes that Kitchen Aid bothered to fix the technical issues with this new model and stores will renew their faith and start selling them again. Time will tell!! 

Cuisinart blender/food processor
Cuisinart blender/food processor

The Cuisinart food processor/blender 2-in-1 was mentioned in my “Blenders” blog, but I will mention it again, almost verbatim. I am always leery of anything that is a 2-in-1 as it calls to mind those TVs that had the VHS player embedded in them, and the VHS player ALWAYS broke. I love Cuisinart, and I’m sure this is a solid machine, but I wouldn’t put my trust in the performance of either being as high caliber as a stand-alone. Personal opinion, only, of course!! 😛 The food processor is only 3 cups like a mini chopper, however, it can slice and shred, which a mini chopper cannot do, so that is definitely a plus. This does not come with the same motor warranty as the other Cuisinart food processors, so again, I don’t think it’s in the same realm when comparing.

Cuisinart disc storage case
Cuisinart disc storage case

There are accessories you can purchase extra with most of the brands, including specialty cutting discs (like french fry and julienne) and cases to store your discs in.

Black & Decker food processor
Black & Decker food processor

Hamilton Beach, Black and Decker, and Delonghi all make various models of food processors, as well.

Immersion Blenders & Blenders

Immersion (Stick/Hand) Blenders
Kitchen Aid immersion blender and accessories
Immersion blenders are pretty handy little tools, great for someone who makes simple smoothies and soups. An immersion blender cannot crush ice at all, believe me, I tried it. 😉 Doesn’t even really chip at it. As long as you remember to submerge the base blending piece before turning it on, it should not splash at all. Immersion = immerse. Make sure the parts are completely covered in liquid and you’re all set!
I personally don’t believe you need speeds on an immersion blender. It’s either going to blend or it isn’t, going faster or slower isn’t changing anything. Kitchen Aid seems to have realized this and toned it down a little. They originally had a 9-speed, but now offer a variety of new models with less speeds: 5, 3, or 2. No singles.
Kitchen Aid is big on accessories, as well. Usually a wire whisk (which I got lots of complaints about them breaking and/or not working very well), and a mini chopper. The mini chopper is handy if you don’t already have one.
Cuisinart Smart Stick immersion blenders
My favorite recommendation is the Cuisinart Smart Stick. You should be able to find it for under $30 (a lot of times for $26 so shop around!) and it comes with their 3-year warranty. That’s nuts for under $30!! I’ve had one for at least four years, and I don’t use it daily, but I use it for smoothies, milkshakes, and especially in soups. It’s great not having to dump your soup in a blender and then back into the pot.
Cuisinart does also make a couple of models with speeds and accessories, as well as a cordless, rechargeable (plugs directly into the wall) model.And of course there are the usual suspects floating around, including Oster, Proctor-Silex, and Hamilton Beach. They all seem to call them “hand” blenders.


Oster blender

Blenders can be a tricky subject. People buy them and abuse the heck out of them, so you get a lot of mixed reviews and it’s hard to say what’s the best blender for the individual. If you aren’t looking to invest a lot of money, the Oster blender is pretty standard and a lot of people have them (and sometimes refer to them as the “Osterizer”). Of course there are also the usual brand name competitors like Proctor Silex and Hamilton Beach.

If you are looking for something with a little more power and you’re wanting to invest a little bit more, you’re probably looking at the following brands.

Blender FYI: 48 ounces used to be standard size, but a lot of brands now have 56 ounce carafes.
Waring Pro – a lot of people had these for over a decade with no issues, but they did start outsourcing them and I was noticing a few more issues here and there, but no mass returns or anything like that. A solid brand name that makes commercial-style items for the residential home, a lot of people prefer the simplicity of two-speeds and love that it’s a glass carafe and has that classic blender look.
Waring Pro blenders
Cuisinart – If you’re looking for a glass blender with more options, the variety of blenders Cuisinart offers might be for you. It’s got a lot of speed settings and an unusually large carafe for being glass on their PowerEdge series of blenders. Of course Cuisinart offers its 3-year warranty which is great for a blender.
Cuisinart PowerEdge blender


Cuisinart PowerBlend Duet
Blender/Food Processor

Cuisinart also makes a food processor/blender 2-in-1. I am always leery of anything that is a 2-in-1 as it calls to mind those TVs that had the VHS player embedded in them, and the VHS player ALWAYS broke. I love Cuisinart, and I’m sure this is a solid machine, but I wouldn’t put my trust in the performance of either being as high caliber as a stand-alone. Personal opinion, only, of course!! 😛 Also, the food processor is only 3 cups so it can’t really do much beyond slicing and shredding. However, the tiny food choppers you can purchase (they are not processors, although a lot of people call them that) are usually 3 cups, too, so this 2-in-1 is actually a processor because it shreds and slices, as well as chop.

The carafes on the following brands are all made from BPA-free polycarbonate (not just plastic!), and that’s also what airplane windows are made out of, so you know these babies are tough! If the blender you’re looking at doesn’t specifically say “BPA free”  or “polycarbonate” you might want to figure out what kind of plastic they are using and consider either a glass carafe or one of these brands!

Kitchen Aid – The Kitchen Aid Diamond Blender boasts the same blade as their previous blender model, which they have always claimed is the sharpest and strongest on the market. I know they have a patent on it, and the blade is mentioned in a comparison video I link to below. The new carafe has a unique diamond-shape that helps to create the more powerful blending vortex. They are consistently rated the best ice chopping blender on the market, and I would strongly recommend either this new model or the one before it as being superb quality for purchasing.
Kitchen Aid Diamond Blender

Ninja – Ninja blenders are newer to the game than its competitors, but people seem to love them! They have quite a few models, from small food choppers to machines that rival the Vitamix. I know a lot of people who have different ones and all of them seem to love them and I’ve never really heard a complaint, but I have no personal experience with them. A video below shows a side-by-side comparison against the new Kitchen Aid blender and I am not convinced of the Ninja’s superiority! However, if you’re looking for a small food processor as well as a blender, some of their models are basically like the Cuisinart PowerDuet mentioned above, and Ninja’s seem to be pretty powerful food processors.

Ninja 1500 Mega Kitchen System
blendtec – This brand is highly regarded in the juicing world as being the best blender on the market for making smoothies. However, after watching a performance test video I have linked below, I am not sure I am convinced this is worth all the money! I don’t have any experience with this brand, so don’t take my word for it.



Vitamix 5200

Vitamix – OK, so this is supposed to be the Cadillac of blenders, right? There are, however, a lot of models, and most reviews, etc. refer to the 5200 model. I’m not sure why this is the go-to model to review, but unfortunately, as with the other blenders, everyone has had a different experience. This is part of their C-Series blenders, which are their strongest motors, which also means they are very loud. Also, depending on which model you’re specifically looking at, the carafes might not fit under your kitchen cabinets.

This comparison chart on their website will help you to determine what “series” of their blenders you should at least start with, based on your preferences. The G-Series addresses some issues with the C-Series, still with the most powerful motors, but adding a sound dampening technology to make your blending experience a little quieter. They are low-profile machines, too, meaning they should fit under cabinets on countertops in most homes.
CIA Vitamix Professional Series

The only Vitamix I am certain doesn’t require using different carafes for wet or dry, and is backed by the Culinary Institute of America, is the Vitamix CIA Professional Series. The CIA is the only culinary school that can dub someone a “master chef” and so having their endorsement on something is a HUGE deal. These are the ones I used to sell, the only ones our company carried, because they have proven to never fail and work beautifully every time. So if you’re going to spend that kind of money, spend a little more and get the best of the best! The CIA Vitamix is part of the noisier C-Series, so I’m sure the new Professional Series models in the G-Series lineup works just as well but more quietly, it just doesn’t have that CIA endorsement.

Final Thoughts

OK, so I actually started putting together this blender post because I am finally getting serious about buying myself a blender. Knowing all I knew already, there are new machines on the market, and like I said, a LOT of people seem to be buying Ninjas right now, so I wasn’t sure I was still making the right choice for myself, as I had always drooled over the old Kitchen Aid model [in green apple! ;)]. And I haven’t sold blenders since Kitchen Aid came out with their new diamond model, so I had to check out the specs on that, of course! [And now I have to pick a new color because I don’t like the green apple as much on the new look! (First-world problems!)] Check out these test videos I found online:
Ninja 1100 Kitchen System

Ninja vs. KitchenAid video – This video show the NEW Kitchen Aid and proves how fast it works compared to the Ninja Professional NJ600. She chose that Ninja because it’s the same price range as the Kitchen Aid. The gal casually mentions the blendtec like “of course” everyone who juices knows how amazing that one already is. However, the video below paints an extremely different story about the blendtec, and it honestly looks like the worst model.

5 Blender Show-Down by Popular Mechanics – This is by Popular Mechanics, so I trust the source quite a bit. She’s using the old Kitchen Aid model, so I am over here picturing the new one doing an even better job!! And I’m sad about the Vitamix and wish she had used the CIA model since I have heard so many mixed reviews about the 5200 model. I have personally used the CIA model and it destroyed everything we put in it, however I obviously didn’t do this exact test.

However, the results of that side-by-side test really push me towards what I thought was the best choice for me all along, which is the Kitchen Aid. I’m not planning on making my own flours, sugars, nut butters, etc. I just want a strong, sturdy blender that will crush ALL the ice. If I did want to do all that other stuff, I might look a little more into the different Ninja models and see how they test out, but ultimately the CIA Vitamix would be my choice if I wanted to lay down a lot of money for a machine that can do a lot. They also offer a 30-day trail period so if you’re unhappy with your purchase, you can return it without a hassle, which is great since it’s such a big monetary investment.
*Also remember that if you are wanting to juice and extract more nutrients out of your produce, particularly using wheat grass or other leafy greens, make sure to compare notes about juicers. The Omega Nutrition Center can make nut butters and can end up being the right choice for a lot of folks who thought they only needed a blender!

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer Attachments

Power hub
Kitchen Aid stand mixer attachments can be a great way to add on to your purchase with other small electrics you might want to add to your kitchen without taking up the full space of buying it as a separate unit. With the exception of the ice cream maker attachment, these all go on the power hub on the front of your Kitchen Aid mixer and work by turning the mixer on, just like you were using the mixer. I don’t think any of the attachment pieces are dishwasher safe, but always check the label, of course!
Here’s a video of the Food Grinder in action – grinding some turkey! You can see how the lower piece also moves when you are using the power hub.
Food Grinder – Most people think of this for just grinding meats (and adding-on the sausage stuffer to make sausages!), but it’s also great for making salsa, guacamole, hiding veggies in sauces for picky eaters, grating hard cheeses, or making bread crumbs! Includes two different sized discs.
Food Grinder parts
**Food grinder user tip! The weird shaped handle on the pusher piece is because it doubles as a wrench for the front piece if you are having trouble unscrewing it!
Voila! See how the grooves fit?!

**Another user tip! I admit to forgetting this myself, but a lot of folks don’t realize the masticating piece pops out for easier cleaning. It’s separate in the photo above, but to emphasize, just push on the metal piece that connects to the power hub to pop it out!

Pop me out & clean!
  • Pasta Plates – You must have the Food Grinder attachment in order to utilize these pasta plates, but the set includes 5 different discs for various short noodle and macaroni shapes. I’m not sure if they are still selling these as they are not on Kitchen Aid’s website, but they were around $30.
  • Sausage Stuffer – You must have the Food Grinder attachment in order to utilize the sausage stuffer attachment, but it includes two different sized tubes for stuffing sausage casings.
The Sausage Stuffer is the cone sticking out of
the front of the Food Grinder that you wrap the casing around and the ground meat pushes into it!
Pasta Making Attachments – I believe all of these come with a little brush to help brush out any dry pieces of noodle that might have gotten caught in them. They are all hand wash only.
Pasta attachment cleaning brush
Pasta Roller – This attachment is for rolling out sheets of pasta; you would essentially get a lasagna noodle out if it and require cutters to make anything else. Has a knob on the side where you can adjust the thickness of the pasta sheets you’re creating.
Pasta Roller
**Angel Hair Cutter – All capellini noodles, like spaghetti
Thick Noodle Cutter – Lasagnette noodles like fettuccine or egg noodles
**I get very annoyed that they use all of their pasta terms so interchangeably on the sets. There are only It makes it extremely difficult for both employees in stores as well as the end consumers to know exactly what they need. These two cutters individually are the ones in the Pasta Cutter Set (below) and are apparently a little more versatile with the sizes of noodles you can make.
Thin=Capellini=Spaghetti=Angel Hair
Thick=Lasagnette=Fettuccine=Egg Noodles
Pasta Sets:
Pasta Excellence Set – Includes the pasta roller, ravioli maker, and capellini, lasagnette, fettuccine, and spaghetti cutters. It is essentially the next two sets listed below combined, plus the ravioli maker.
Pasta Excellence Set
Pasta Roller & Cutter Set – Includes the pasta roller, fettuccine and spaghetti cutters. *The difference I’m seeing is that these aren’t wide enough to be egg noodles or thin enough to be angel hair noodles like the set below.
I have the Pasta Roller & Cutter set and these are the cutters.
It would seem this is the best deal if you don’t care about
making extra thin or thick noodles!
Pasta Cutter Set – **NO ROLLER** Includes lasagnette (fettuccine & egg noodles) and capellini cutters (spaghetti & angel hair)
[I personally think the metal roller and cutters are a great investment if you are serious about making pasta at home. Have you ever used a manual crank pasta machine? They are really hard to crank (they sell a $100 motor for the Atlas brand one because it’s so hard!), and it’s almost like you have to have two people to do it, one person to crank and one to pull the sheet of pasta forward as they are cranking it! The pasta plates that go with the Food Grinder and the Gourmet Pasta Press are pasta extruders – this means they work like a Play-Doh toy, pushing the pasta noodles out through different shaped plastic holes to get their shape.]
Ravioli Maker
Gourmet Pasta Press – This is a big step above the pasta plates you can get for the Food Grinder attachment. There are 6 pasta plates, and you can actually make spaghetti and bucatini pastas, along with your short noodles. It also has a conveniently attached storage piece for the plates you aren’t utilizing.
Gourmet Pasta Press
Ravioli Maker – Feed pasta sheets through either side of the machine and dump whatever you’re stuffing into the middle and it crimps and seals the raviolis for you!
Ravioli Maker in action!
Pasta Drying Rack – You don’t need to specifically buy Kitchen Aid’s drying rack for your pasta, but if you can’t find another brand, why not? Theirs, like Atlas’ is plastic and the arms rotate around for easier drying and storage purposes.
Fruit/Vegetable Strainer Set – Strain and puree fruits and vegetables just like you would with a manual food mill. Great for baby food and tomato sauce, and includes a strainer cone to keep any peels out.
Fruit & Vegetable Strainer
Food Tray – Larger food tray attachment to add on to the Food Grinder for holding more at once.
Slicer/Shredder – This is a pretty cool set if you don’t have a food processor already. It comes with 2 different sized shredding cones, and 2 different sized slicing cones.
Grain Mill – This all-metal mill will help you make homemade flours and grind your own oats, etc. I recall a customer once telling me that it was difficult to find an electric mill that didn’t have any plastic pieces and she was very happy to find the Kitchen Aid one, but I’m not sure how true this is!
Grain Mill
Citrus Juicer – This works just like any other electric citrus juicer would – the center piece has two sizes for different sizes of citrus, and when you turn the machine on the center piece spins while you hold the piece of fruit up to it and it juices it for you. There’s a little strainer piece that will help to catch any seeds or large pieces of pulp from falling into whatever receptacle you’ve chosen for the juice to fall into.
Citrus Juicer
Ice Cream Maker – This works just like most of the electric ice cream makers you see on the market these days. You have to freeze the bowl for several hours before you can make the ice cream and there is a paddle attachment that also comes with it to help churn the ice cream properly when you turn the machine on. This is the only attachment that doesn’t go on the power hub – you use it like you were using the mixer normally, just with a different paddle and bowl!
Ice Cream Maker