Mama’s Gotta Have It – Small Appliance Must-Haves for Busy Cooks

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pans—could there be a more perfect group of foodies to ask about their favorite small appliances?

These women cook, blog, talk and enjoy food.

Once a month they get together to cook a themed meal and swap recipes. Southeast Asian? They’re on the web to get ingredients rarely seen outside of Thailand. Italian? Amy Miller used to live in Italy, so when she talks about Crostini di Fegatini di Pollo, you need to write down the recipe.

And when they talk appliances, they know what they can’t live without.

Coffeemaker? Of course. And they have opinions about French presses and percolators, but what about those small appliances you’ve been thinking about getting (or hinting about for Mother’s Day)? Here are the ones worth the big splurge.

Stand Mixer
The passion flows when we talk stand mixers. Amy, Liz Barrett and Tina Kalil all love their KitchenAids.

“You could drive a car with the motor in that thing,” says Barrett, who writes the food blog She uses her mixer, which she calls “Bella,” for bread dough, cakes and even homemade marshmallows. Before she got hers, she polled her friends on Facebook to decide which color she should get, and blue won out.

Given that Kalil has had her mixer for 15 years, she agrees that thinking long and hard about the color is a good idea—hers is also blue. “I use it mostly for baking, but also use it for egg whites and whipped cream,” she says. Kalil, who lives in Evanston with her husband and three children, uses hers when she entertains, but also when cooking with her children.

Miller loves her new KitchenAid, but also mentions her Cuisinart Mini Prep as a favorite. She uses it to mince everything from garlic to almonds. She then writes about her creations at

“I’ve even pureed cooked chicken breast to almost a paste that I then mixed with porcini mushrooms and piped into penne,” she says. Yum.

Immersion Blender
Mara Rosenbloom, who lives in Hoffman Estates and writes the blog, and her mother, Mimi Kravits of Evanston, are dedicated to their immersion blenders.

“I got all the appliances for my wedding,” says Rosenbloom, talking about her recent nuptials. “Slow cooker, Cuisinart, rice steamer; I haven’t used the big stuff all that much, but I love my immersion blender.” She uses it for soups, sauces, even frittatas. It purees in the pot or bowl that you’re already using and then it’s an easy cleanup.

The other immersion blender fan, Kravits, has always loved to cook and passed her skills onto her children. She has one daughter—Rosenbloom— who’s a teacher and food blogger and another who’s a professional pastry chef.

So what are these women lacking?

“If I could find an appliance that would clean up, I’d buy it in a second,” says Barrett.

Head to What’s Cooking to find recipes by the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pans.