My Top Five Time-Saving Kitchen Tools

I used to be a gadget person. Then I had kids, moved and got a brand new kitchen and decided it was time to minimize. If you’ve ever moved after having kids, you know that there is just so. much. stuff. Stuff to pack, stuff to unpack, stuff to put away, stuff to pick up off the floor on the daily, stuff to throw away because you’re sick of picking it up off the floor. Having kids really made me reassess my personal belongings and the need for having so much stuff, including kitchen tools!

I feel like whenever we have an empty cupboard, drawer or closet, we feel like we have to get stuff to fill it. I took the opposite approach when we planned out our kitchen reno. We don’t have a pantry so I really needed the drawer storage in the kitchen to serve as a pantry for us. I had to make sure that all our kitchen tools would have a place and that there were a few empty drawers for packaged food storage.

Considering all that, I pared down our kitchen to the essentials and eliminated most of the tools that weren’t getting any facetime. There are a few that I kept and that I love, mostly because they save me precious time in the kitchen.

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Triggered ice cream scoop

I probably use this more than any other kitchen tool we have, and I don’t even use it for ice cream. A triggered ice cream scoop is the perfect way to hammer out a batch of muffins in no time. I also like using it for cookies. A smaller sized cookie scoop works best, but mine broke, so now I use the ice cream scoop and just break the cookie dough balls in two. Double duty. Even better.

Epicure garlic peeler

Epicure Garlic Peeler

I didn’t realize how much I loved this simple tool until I was peeling clove after clove for making salsa and marinara last summer. It is just a silicone tube, but it works wonders. Pop in a clove, roll the tube on the counter, off comes the peel. This is an easy kitchen tool for your tiny kitchen helpers to use too. My kids just go to town peeling garlic, even when I don’t need it. It keeps them busy while I’m trying to make supper and it’s so mindless that they can chat me up while they’re doing it, so that makes me happy.

Kitchen Aid shredder attachment

This one is a splurge! I waited, not even kidding, five years to buckle down and buy this, finally deciding to make this purchase when I broke the shredder blade in my food processor. I didn’t really want to replace the entire food processor, and I already had the Kitchen Aid mixer, so getting the attachment set just made sense. It comes with three blades: a fine shredder, a regular shredder and a slicer. I haven’t even tried the slicer blade yet, but I’ve used the shredder on carrots, cheese and zucchini. The only downside to this one for me is that it’s not dishwasher safe, but for the time I save by not having to use a box grater, I can afford to wash the attachments by hand.

Microplane grater

I used to have a box grater, a garlic press and a citrus zester, until my mom gave me a microplane in my Christmas stocking one year (because that’s what a foodie’s mom buys for their stocking). Now that I have the microplane, I don’t need any of those other gadgets anymore. It is so sharp! That means everything grates up quickly. Fresh nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, garlic, citrus zest, parmesan cheese. It’s also easy to clean and goes in the dishwasher. I use this all the time, probably as much as the ice cream scoop.

Immersion blender

Immersion blenders are cheap. I think I got mine for under 40 bucks. My favorite way to use it is for whipping up vinagrettes into creamy dressings, like my caesar vinaigrette posted here. Side note: If you didn’t already know, I am not a fan of mayo based dressings or any creamy dressings for that matter. This is why I love blending up vinaigrettes. Other ways I use the immersion blender are for soups, my Easy Alfredo Sauce and the occasional milkshake! The one I have has a removable blade, which makes it easier to clean, because all you have to do is pop it in the dishwasher. Some don’t have a removable blade, which means you’re holding it under running water, or blending up some hot soapy water to clean it.

What are your faves?

These kitchen tools are in my top five, mostly because they solve a problem of some kind: saving time, saving space, multitasking. What are your favorite kitchen tools? Comment on this post and share them with us!

Happy Birthday to us!!

Today is our birthday! It’s been a crazy year. I’m so glad that Too Busy Livin’ survived a full year. When I started this thing, it was way more work than I could handle. Learning how to blog and all the tech knowledge that comes with it has been stimulating my brain quite a bit this past year, but I’m getting the hang of it and I’m super into it. There is so much to know, and like any new hobby, I’m learning new skills every day.

Some exciting things have happened to Too Busy Livin’ in it’s first year. This collaboration we did with Lemo Lemonade in the summer was featured in Canadian Living Magazine’s March issue!

Maegan Carter and I had a fun morning setting up and shooting for Lemo in my dining room. We did not expect it to end up in Canadian Living Magazine!

Also, as of yesterday, I am now a member of the Food Bloggers of Canada! They have so many amazing resources that will hopefully make me a better blogger!

If you’ve been following since the beginning, thank you so much! I see you, liking and commenting on my Instagram posts and I appreciate your support for my little passion project so much! If you’re new here, I hope that you were brought here by an idea or a recipe you loved and I promise you, there are more to come!

On that note, if you enjoy my posts, and haven’t subscribed, now is the time! There are some new projects in the works especially for my regulars!

Greek Chicken Wraps – Three ways

Construction, deconstruction, reconstruction

Deconstruction – Greek Mezze plate. Sometimes simple is best.

One of my favorite strategies when meal planning is to deconstruct or reconstruct to make a favorite meal slightly different. This allows us to keep the flavors that we love but change up the way we consume them, to add variety to our weekly menus.

The key players, a.k.a. what you will need

  • Naan
  • Hummus (Homemade or store bought)
  • Tzatziki (Homemade or store bought)
  • Greek dressing (Homemade or store bought)
  • Lemons
  • Chicken breasts
  • Garlic
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Red onion
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Black olives
  • Feta cheese

Mise en place

The teacher in me loves French words! The foodie in me loves them even more when they refer to food or cooking. Mise en place is a French term used to describe the set up required before cooking. This means, prepping and having everything ready to go for when you start cooking.

We’re going to do a little mise en place here to set you up for constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing Greek Chicken Wraps.

Sauces and dressings

In this case, hummus, tzatziki and greek dressing. You can go store-bought all the way, or homemade. It really doesn’t matter. Use what is convenient, use what you like.

Hummus: I always like to make my hummus from scratch. My go-to for years, has been Real Simple’s 5-Minute Hummus. It never disappoints. Simple ingredients, whips up in five minutes. I love adding a bit of harissa to it for a spicier version.

Tzatziki: Making homemade tzatziki is not difficult and requires few ingredients: Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon, salt. Do I love grating and squeezing out the cucumber for this recipe? Not really. Do I have time for that? Not really. I usually go store-bought on this one, because I love the flavor and thickness of PC brand Tzatziki. (Not an ad, it’s just one of my faves!)

Greek Dressing: Whichever dressing you choose to use, use it to its full potential: as the salad dressing and as the marinade for the chicken. Again, the ingredients are so simple that I like to make this one myself. One part lemon juice, two parts olive oil, oregano, salt & pepper and garlic. I like to use a bit of garlic powder in the dressing (maybe 1/4 teaspoon), then add a couple more cloves of fresh garlic to the chicken while in marinates. The fresh garlic is a bit too harsh for the dressing, I find. I also like to zest the lemons before juicing and add that to the chicken marinade as well. This lemon herb marinade also works well, but has a few more ingredients.

Chopping and cooking

Salad: Chop all your veggies, add feta and dressing and you’re done. One thing I like to do is switch up the size of the veggies, depending on what I’m making. A chunkier greek salad is really stands out on the mezze plate, whereas a smaller, diced greek salad works well in a wrap.

Chicken: I went all sheet pan dinner on the chicken, because it’s just too easy not to. I sliced each chicken breast into about five fingers, so they would cook faster, marinated for about half an hour, spread out on a parchment covered baking sheet and baked at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes. So basically while your chicken is cooking, you’ll have time to prep your salad.

Naan: I love how pillowy soft the naan gets when it’s warmed up. I just popped it in the oven on a sheet pan for five minutes while the chicken was cooking, to make it pliable enough to contain the wrap ingredients. For the mezze plate, I brushed it with olive oil and sprinkled it with salt, and baked it a little bit longer to give it some color and to hold up to dipping in the thick tzatziki.

Construction – Greek Chicken Wrap

Now that you have your mise en place ready to go, you can build your wrap.

  1. Spread hummus or tzatziki (or both) on your warmed naan.
  2. Fill with chicken, top with salad. (You can also add some lettuce to the wrap for some filler.)
  3. Eat it taco-style.

Variation: Try roasting some of the salad veggies (peppers, red onion and olives) with the chicken. Top with cucumber, tomato and feta and a drizzle of dressing.

Deconstruction – Greek Mezze Platter

Deconstruction is usually the easiest method to use when trying to change up your meal plan because all the ingredients are already ready.

  1. Spread the hummus and tzatziki on a plate or shallow bowl.
  2. Top with chicken pieces, salad, and naan triangles.

Reconstruction – Greek chicken pizza

Reconstruction is probably the most difficult and labour-intensive of the three processes we just covered. You may need a few extra ingredients in order to create something slightly different. In this example, I’ve used most of the same ingredients, but prepared them differently.

  1. Use a piece of naan as your crust and lightly brush it with olive oil.
  2. When cooking the chicken, throw on a couple whole cloves of garlic and some grape tomatoes so they roast up nicely.
  3. Spread the roasted garlic over the naan, the smash some tomatoes over it too.
  4. Top with chopped chicken, peppers, onion, olives and feta. (You could use raw or roasted veggies here.)
  5. Grate a bit of lemon zest over the top.
  6. Add a bit of mozzarella if you like your pizza extra cheesy.

Variation: You can go vegetarian on all of these by simply omitting the chicken.

Apply this method to another meal

Now that you know what to do, try this method with another meal. Check out these dressings, marinades or five things you could make for supper that may fit into your construction/deconstruction/reconstruction plan.

Have you tried this method? I love to hear your ideas! Comment on this post or email me at info@toobusylivin.com