08 December 2009

Sensible Style - Your 8 best holiday helpers

Sensible Style launched in July to answer your questions about how to get the most out of your kitchen. ...

That's especially crucial at this time of year, when many of us are entertaining friends, family and colleagues in our homes. That makes it stress time for your kitchen! Here are some handy helpers to make the holiday season easier on you, your schedule and the hardest working room of your house.

Maximize cooking capacity

Most of the kitchens I've remodeled have started out with a single oven range with four burners on top, and a separate microwave oven. This is the sum total of their cooking capacity. Here's how to increase yours without tearing apart your kitchen this holiday season.

1) Replace your standard microwave oven with a convection microwave. This will turn your micro from a simple reheating, defrosting, popcorn-making machine into a top-flight cooking and baking appliance. They're available in both over-the-range and built-in models, and ideal for doubling oven capacity in compact kitchens.

2) Add additional capacity by choosing a convection microwave with warming oven capability. This will build in some flexibility to your cooking and serving schedule.

3) Add a fifth burner to your kitchen with a portable induction cooktop. These single-burner appliances boil water quicker than your current gas or electric versions and can sit on a spare foot of countertop to increase your capacity.

A portable induction cooktop, like this one from Viking, can increase your stove top cooking capacity.

Simplify prep and clean-up

Meal prep and clean up never garner any gourmet points, but occupy a significant part of your holiday entertaining time. Here's how to streamline the process and get you out of the kitchen quicker.

4) Select cookware that can go from the freezer to the oven to the table to the dishwasher. This will reduce your clean-up time considerably, (and the amount of water you use cleaning up after your big holiday dinner). There are several attractive brands you can choose from. Find the one that fits your budget and style.

The most attractive quality to this Emile Henry cookware just may be its extraordinary convenience.

5) If you were looking at replacing worn-out, broken or warped wood cutting boards, consider a color-coded (meat, vegetable, fish, etc.) set that can go into your dishwasher instead. This is much more sanitary and convenient, as well.

6) Invest in an immersion blender. This handy tool requires less clean-up than a standard stand mixer, takes up no space on your countertop and builds some flexibility into your prep process.

7) Keep your cookbooks cleaner and your countertops cleared with a cookbook holder that mounts below your wall cabinets.

This Under Cabinet Cookbook Holder is available on Organize-It.com

Tread lightly

Most of us have tiled kitchen floors that are extremely hard to stand on for the hours it takes to prepare, cook, serve and clean up after a holiday dinner.

8) My favorite holiday helper is a cushioned floor mat that make this season as merry for our feet, back, hips and legs as for our hearts and bellies.

Choose a size, color and pattern for a GelPro mat that fits your kitchen and takes the stress of holiday entertaining off your body.

Visit the Sensible Style box on the right column for links to all the posts in this ongoing series.


  1. Wood cutting boards have been consistently found to be the most sanitary in lab tests, FWIW!

  2. Great post, good pictures. I love this blog. Thanks for share useful information.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I'm a big Emile Henry fan. They a tad hefty, but the clean-up is such a breeze! And it looks like they've vastly improved the undercabinet recipe holders: I remember needing two hands and a football team to yank the early ones into place; looks like the hardware is much better.

    (I deleted the above comment - there's only so many times one can say "vastly improved." I'm going to pretend that I'm too young to remember the old items from now on.) ;)


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