Le Creuset casseroles and fondue pot
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You may have the best intentions when registering for lots of kitchen gadgets—of course you need a cast iron cookware set, and yes, you’ll use an Instant Pot all the time—but then they tend to collect dust in your cupboards. Here’s how to actually use everything on your wedding registry.

These Will Help TooThe Best Cookbooks for NewlywedsBefore I got married, I was convinced that I’d be using everything I put on my wedding registry constantly. I imagined that as soon as we got back from our honeymoon, I’d be busting out my Le Creuset on the regular to whip up gourmet (or at least gourmet-ish) meals all the time in my quest to be a kick-ass wife. The reality has been a bit different.

Between work obligations and a hectic schedule, most nights my husband and I find ourselves pulling up Seamless or making grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner (they’re delicious, but a human cannot live on grilled cheese alone). So recently, I’ve made it my personal goal to get back into the kitchen and actually take advantage all the fancy items that our nearest and dearest gave to us with the hope that we would actually use them. Here’s how I made a dent over the holidays, and how you can, too—all year long.

1. Pull out the martini shaker.

perfect gin martini

Chowhound’s Perfect Gin Martini

One of my favorite adult holiday traditions is wrapping holiday gifts to the tunes of Frank Sinatra songs. And what goes better with “Ol’ Blue Eyes” than a martini? Nothing, that’s what. Due to some shipping snafus and going the gift card route for a few people this year (sorry!), I didn’t actually have much to wrap, but that didn’t stop me from christening our martini shaker with some gin and vermouth while I listened to the chairman of the board sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I realized after mixing that we didn’t actually have martini glasses, but some old margarita glasses from the back of our cabinet worked just fine for our impromptu Rat Pack concert…which then transitioned to Mariah Carey holiday songs on repeat.

Read More: The Best Cocktail Sets on Amazon | A Guide to Finding the Vintage Glassware of Your Dreams Online

Now, winter is not the only time cocktails are called for—come summer, mixed drinks are still a great choice, especially if you go with mocktails or low-alcohol drinks so they’re a bit more sessionable and refreshing. Switch the tunes to something beach blanket-worthy (maybe Ina Garten’s summer playlist), sit back, sip, and relax.

2. A slow cooker is not just for food.

I have to admit that I’ve been a bit intimidated to use my Crock-Pot, and also worried that there would be no occasion that would warrant me making quite as much food as you can in one. (Okay, I’ve been a bit lazy, too.) But two of my best friends were hosting a holiday party, which seemed like the ideal time to try a lil somethin’ somethin’ in my slow cooker. I eventually settled on mulled wine, since it was snowing the day of the party, and booze is always a welcome addition to any fete. Nothing quite like a cozy glass of the stuff to put you in the festive spirit…and to fuel a fun game of White Elephant. (My husband and I ended up with a mermaid tail blanket and dart board, respectively. Not too shabby.)

Read More: The Best Slow Cookers for Every Personality & Situation

A slow cooker is also not just for cold weather—break out the Crock-Pot for summer slow cooker BBQ sides too, and even dessert like this Slow Cooker Peach Crumble. (And maybe that will inspire you to use that ice cream maker you also asked for—or, you can make ice cream in your food processor.)

3. Let exciting ingredients inspire you.

At the start of December, my husband and I braved the crowds to go to the holiday market at Bryant Park, which seemed like it would be a bust until I discovered that the Truffleist was selling truffle everything there—basically my nirvana. We eventually bought truffle oil and salt to experiment with at home and I spent some time furiously researching what to use the ingredients for. A few days later, I ended up making a huge batch of mouthwatering truffle mac and cheese, finally putting some bakeware to work that I hadn’t used yet. Totally worth dealing with the weekend crowds at the market!

In spring and summer, farmers markets are overflowing with bounty, and that can certainly inspire you too—maybe the first strawberries of the season will make you break out that Bundt pan:

Or a glut of garlic scapes will cry out for your shiny new immersion blender to whip them into pesto, or you’ll scoop up a whole bunch of veggies with no real plan and trust you’ll find the perfect vegetarian slow cooker recipe to make use of them (and your new appliance) later. Just stay open to all the possibilities; this is actually a recurring theme.

4. Don’t neglect your veggies.

The holidays and clean eating don’t exactly go hand in hand, but after days of binging on festive cookies from Trader Joe’s and skipping the gym for holiday parties, my body was craving some veggies. This prompted me to whip out my never before used spiralizer to make this zucchini shrimp scampi, which was so good that I didn’t even miss the pasta. Heaping on some parmesan cheese to the final dish probably cut down on the health factor slightly, but I was just happy to get some green on my plate during the month of December.

Spiralizer Ultimate 7 Vegetable Slicer, $25.97 on Amazon

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It’s a little easier in spring and summer, but it can get boring if you don’t switch it up; luckily, your spiralizer is good for lots of veggies besides zucchini, and we’ve already covered your Crock-Pot as a vegetable cooking machine. But don’t forget your brand new blender either; it’s a whiz at turning fresh fruits and veggies into smoothies, refreshing chilled soups, and slushy summer drinks (like this Slushy Cherry Old Fashioned). In the fall and winter, use it to make butternut squash soup and cauliflower-based “cream” sauces.

5. Your stand mixer is more versatile than you realize

That KitchenAid mixer looks lovely on your counter, but it’s not just for show—and not just for cookie dough and pastry, either (though it is a boon during holiday baking time). There are several KitchenAid attachments that make it possible to turn out homemade sausage, homemade pasta, and more, but even without any of those add-ons, you can use your stand mixer to make effortless fresh whipped cream, shred your BBQ pulled pork or chicken, and make homemade marshmallows for the ultimate s’mores season (and hot cocoa season too). You can even make homemade Play-Dough for any kids who may be (or soon be) in the picture.

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The iconic kitchen counter appliance of so many dreams.
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This is really just a return to tip #2—a lot of appliances and kitchen tools you have are good for more than just their obvious uses. (Seriously, try using your food processor for ice cream—and for shredding veggies for summer slaw instead of wrangling a box grater. And if you somehow ended up with a melon baller, even that’s not a one-trick pony.)

Related Reading: 14 Alternative Uses for Your Bundt Pan | 15 New Ways to Use Your Muffin Pan | What to Do with Those Mini Cast Iron Skillets

Basically, in the kitchen, as in marriage, learning to be flexible will be a great asset.

The original version of this post by Kelsey Butler was published in 2017; it has been updated by Chowhound Editors with new text, links, and images.

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Kelsey Butler is a reporter and editor based in New Jersey. She has written for a number of health and lifestyle publications, including Women's Health, Brides, and NBC News Better. Hot sauce, black coffee, and bacon make up 50% of her diet.
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