Pregnancy Shorts: Cooking with Beer

Alcohol hack for pregnancy: Cook with beer. The alcohol content is cooked out, but the rich flavor stays behind. I made beef stew in the crockpot last night with Quilter’s Irish Death, and it was incredibly satisfying.

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Top 5 kitchen picks for wedding registries

You know that feeling of “everyone I know is getting married?” I went through that phase a few years ago, around the time I was preparing to get married. Most of my friends were either engaged or recently married, as well. It’s a weird feeling when everyone gets hitched in one fell swoop.

Between then and now, there was been a lull in the wedding department. The “everyone is having babies” feeling took over for a bit, and then I turned into one of those people (side note: we’re having a girl!).

But recently, the wedding cycle has picked up again. Right now I’m invited to 4 weddings in 2016 (1 in the spring and 3 in the fall). This uptick has caused me to think back on the excitement of planning my wedding, registering for gifts, and the crazy joy of knowing my life was changing in a huge way.

Let’s be honest: Wedding registries are a blessing and a curse. There’s some cool gadgets out there, but it’s hard to know which ones are worth a spot on your list. Some of them (I’m looking at you, “As Seen on TV”) will stay in the box until you decide to donate them on your one-year anniversary. I know because I’ve been there. The Union Gospel Mission Thrift Store got 2 large garbage bags of kitchen things ALONE, along with old clothes and other things I spring cleaned.

Your friends and family want to bless you by gifting things that you will use. Make the most of their time and money by picking essentials that will last a while.

Here are my top 5 kitchen gadget picks — in no particular order and based on personal experience — for your wedding registry:

Ninja Blender System

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ninjakitchen.com

This solves most of my kitchen issues. There’s smoothie cups with sip and seal lids (for personal smoothies and juices), a blender (for larger smoothie quantities, and whatever else you would use a blender for), and a processor bowl (it slices, dices, and has a separate blade for mixing dough! What?!). This system eliminates the need to register for a blender, a food processor, and a smoothie maker separately.

Coffee maker

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Hamilton Beach 2-way Coffee Maker

I mean, this one should be obvious if you’re addicted to caffeine. Unless you’re a total coffee snob (French press/cold press/espresso shots/etc.), you really don’t need much more than a standard cup o’ joe contraption. This one is cool because it has 2 options: single-serve and a full carafe, so you can make a quick cup in the morning and brew a pot for guests in the evening.

A good cutlery set

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Ginsu cutlery set

We made the mistake of registering for a cheap knife set, thinking that sharp was sharp and there wasn’t a difference between cheap knives and expensive knives.

Oh silly, silly us.

We recently replaced our cheap cutlery set (which barely made it past the 1-year mark without rust stains) with a set of Ginsu knives, and they are glorious. Good knives will treat you well (and save you money) in the long run.

KitchenAid mixer

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KitchenAid tilt stand mixer

There’s a reason why the KitchenAid hasn’t gone out of style through the years. This solves all your mixing needs, especially for recipes that require a little more hands-on TLC (as opposed to using the Ninja processor). Plus, it comes in a plethora of colors, so it fits every kitchen color scheme.

Crock-Pot

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Crock-Pot Cook ‘N’ Carry 6-Quart Portable Slow Cooker

This is the most valuable asset in my kitchen. You can make just about anything in a Crock-Pot, from candied nuts to a full dinner. This model has a secure fit sealed lid, so you can transport your food to the church potluck (or wherever) without worrying about it sloshing everywhere. For extra portability, get the insulated Crock-Pot Travel Bag. It has sturdy handles and keeps the heat contained.

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