Top 5 Kitchen Gadgets We Can't Live Without

As I was making Thanksgiving dinner this year, I found myself spending a lot of time finding, assembling and, later, cleaning gadgets. It started me thinking about which ones were really worth the effort, and which were not. Today we look at the five kitchen gadgets that I think are really worth using. Check back tomorrow to see which ones didn't make the cut. And let me know if there is some really cool thingamabob out there that just makes your cooking life wonderful (or not).

5. Silicone Baking Mat: I admit that I only initially bought this because it was a lovely shade of pink. Now it's kind of splotchy and brown, but that's because I use it so often. It fits perfectly onto my cookie sheet and makes clean-up a breeze. My cookies, rolls, etc. always come out perfectly golden on the bottom, the pan stays clean, and the mat is dishwasher safe. Love it!

4. Microplane: When I first bought this gadget, it felt superfluous, but I also felt like a real cook. Turns out the superfluous feeling was, well, superfluous. I use this thing almost every day to finely grate fresh citrus peel, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate - you name it.

3. Mortar & Pestle: Apparently what's old is new again, and a mortar and pestle will never go out of style. Mine is tiny, but I use it regularly to turn out fresh garlic rubs and salt crusts. Plus it looks cool, and it's actually fun to use.

2. Potato Ricer: Like the microplane, it took a lot of convincing to get me to buy a ricer. This was the first holiday in which I used it for my mashed potatoes. Can I say incredible? The texture is so much better than mashing or whipping the potatoes. My family was equally impressed: I am now the official mashed potato maker for the holidays.

1. Food Processor: Every time I have to bust out the many, many pieces of my Cuisinart, I ask myself if it's really worth it. In a word: yes. Once I have it assembled, filled with ingredients, and I push that pulse button, magic happens. It's a life saver for delicate crusts, fluffy sweet potato casseroles, and much, much more. It's truly a lifesaver.

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