I'm the kind of person who enjoys the challenge of making things from scratch, and one of my favorites is a simple rustic pizza. I make the pizza dough myself. The tomatoes I use for the base come from my neighbor's garden. The basil is grown on my porch during the summer. I'm planning to try making my own mozzarella soon. "Short of milling my own flour," I tell my friends, "I can make a pizza pretty much from scratch."
And then, while researching this article, I ran across the KitchenAid Grain Mill attachment. The trusty KitchenAid stand mixer that I picked up a few years ago at the Kohl's Black Friday sale, with the right attachment, can mill flour.
The grain mill is pretty cool, but really, this entire list hits me right in the happy place.
Mix your meats
One of my favorite winter recipes is Sunday Supper Soup, a tasty meatball soup from a 1973 McCalls recipe card that my mom has made pretty much all of my life. It includes directions for making meatballs from scratch, but after making my own exactly once and getting fed up with the mess that hand-mixing the meat created, I vowed that future iterations would simply include frozen pre-packaged meatballs instead.
It never occurred to me before that I could mix the meatballs up with the flat beater that came with my stand mixer. Form the meatballs with a cookie scoop, and you'll never have to slime your hands up again. Amazing, right?
But don't stop at meatballs. Use it to mix up a meatloaf. Add chopped chiles and cheese to your pub burgers. The applications here are endless.
Mash your fruits and veggies
In the past, I've used a pastry cutter (one of my most-used kitchen tools, also known as a dough blender) and a bit of elbow grease to mix and mash potatoes, guacamole, sweet potatoes, and roasted pumpkin. But the standard-issue flat beater makes quick work of them while you clean up.
I haven't tried it for a chunky homemade apple sauce, but it should work there, too! If you've done that before, or have any more mashing tips, chime in on Facebook or in the comments below.
Slice and shred all the things
Need deli-thin tomato and onion slices for your sandwiches? Done. Whip up a cheese and fruit tray for a party? No problem. How about some freshly shaved pecorino for the from-scratch pasta you just made? Now we're talking.
Shred some meat
There wasn't a stand mixer in our house when I was growing up, just an electric hand mixer, so the sheer power of a stand mixer is not something I fully grasped until I watched one shred some gorgeously blackened hunks of pork shoulder in just a few seconds without straining even a little. It was like the world had opened up before me with dream-like visions of my mom's Italian beef, the glories of pulled pork barbecue, hot posole on a cold winter day, and a shredded version of my favorite curried chicken salad recipe. I use dried cranberries instead of celery.
Did you know that you can make your own marshmallows? It's one of those things that I've always taken for granted as a grocery store staple. Now that I know it can be done, and using nothing more than the wire whisk that comes standard with the mixer, it's a must-do.
I'm liking this recipe, which doesn't require corn syrup. Experiment with different flavors by replacing the vanilla with almond, orange, or peppermint extract. Drop one into a cup of hot chocolate. Make the best s'mores of your life.
Whip up the fluffiest meringue and whipped cream
What to make: meringue for pies, meringue cookies, marshmallows
Key lime pies were a staple dessert in my home growing up. We just used the recipe on the Nellie & Joe's bottle, but the key to making a truly great pie was baking it with a meringue. And it was a pain to do, even with a hand mixer. It just took forever, holding the hand mixer in the bowl, switching arms, handing it off to your sister for awhile... this is why so many home bakers avoid meringues.
If you have a stand mixer, on the other hand, you need only drop the ingredients into the bowl, set it up with the wire whisk, and walk away from it for awhile. It's ridiculously easy. Once you've had a good toasted meringue, you'll never go back to Reddi-wip.
But don't stop with pies. You can also make meringue cookies, those kiss-like drops that melt in your mouth with every bite. Level them up by using the slicer/shredder attachment to chop up some chocolate chips and fold them into the meringue.
Graduate to homemade pasta
Skip the boxed stuff and make your own pasta from scratch. Linguine, mac and cheese, lasagna, pasta salad, ramen noodles, Japanese soba – the possibilities are endless!
My favorite fast from-scratch pasta dish is a burst cherry tomato sauce that's basically cherry or grape tomatoes cooked in olive oil until they burst. It's so fast and works so well with my kitchen staples that I make it at least once a week.
Cover the bottom of a small sauce pan with grape tomatoes, then add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan (roughly 1/4 inch, you don't want to cover the tomatoes). Throw in some chopped garlic, kosher salt, a pinch of sugar, and however much crushed red pepper you like, pop a lid on the pot, and cook until the tomatoes pop, releasing their juices to mingle with the oil. The result is a fresh, fast pasta topper that looks and tastes a whole lot fancier than it is. Finish with chopped fresh basil (a dusting of the dried stuff is fine too) and some shredded parmesan.
Let it knead the dough for you
What to make: bread, pizza dough, buttermilk biscuits, spring roll wrappers, phyllo for baklava, yeast rolls
Although I make dough for bread, pizza, and tortillas pretty much constantly, it was two years before I bothered to give the dough hook attachment a try. I popped the dough into the bowl and let it run while I cleaned up and prepped the bread pan. Guess what? I'm kicking myself for not trying it sooner.
Mill your own flour
I'll be honest, this is the attachment I covet more than any other. Remember that pizza story at the beginning? Milling my own flour to make the pizza dough (which I would knead with the dough hook!) sounds ridiculous and awesome all at once.
So if you really want to go all in on the culinary DIY, you can mill the flour, use it to make pasta dough with the dough hook, then run it through the pasta extruder for the freshest truly-from-scratch linguine you'll ever have in your life. But don't you dare top this masterpiece with sauce from a jar. That's a crime against food.
Is it cost effective? Oh heck no, not when a bag of flour costs so little at the grocery store. And where does one find wheat to grind anyway? But that's not really the point, of course. The point is to have the rustic yet decadent experience of preparing a meal with the flour that you milled yourself, something that 99.9% of Americans have never done.
Churn your own super-fresh butter
Yes, your KitchenAid stand mixer can double as a butter churn! It doesn't require any special extra attachments, either. Guess what I just put on my to-do list? This butter-making tutorial from TheKitchn looks pretty solid, and there are several YouTube videos that walk through the process as well.
Then take it a step further and mix in some honey, maple syrup, or cinnamon and sugar to make something special to spread on some fresh rolls. Or make a spreadable margarine alternative by mixing it with some olive or grapeseed oil.
Make some ice cream
The recipe book that comes with the ice cream maker attachment has a basic french vanilla that has great reviews, but why not rock it out with some truly gourmet treats of the sort that normally run $10/pint? Jeni's Splendid is the current gold standard for luxury ice creams, and lo, we found her recipe book on Amazon. Goat cheese and roasted cherries? Sweet potato with torched marshmallow? Coriander with raspberry sauce? YES PLEASE.
Hook the sausage stuffer up to the food grinder attachment, and you can grind your meat together with all of the fresh herbs, garlic, cheese, apple bits, and whatever fresh ingredients strike your artisan kitchen fancy. Sure beats hot dogs, right?
Fresh-squeezed orange juice
One of my jobs as a dutiful daughter is to haul fresh squeezed orange juice from my fancified big city grocery store home when I visit my parents, who live in a fairly rural town. Of course, with the citrus juicer attachment, they could make their own pretty easily – between visits of course, because honestly, having it already prepped and ready in the produce section is pretty convenient.
But there is a good case to be made for finding a rare bunch of blood oranges, or you want to try mixing clementines with grapefruit, or just have a hankering for a pitcher of homemade limeade. You could also buy a bag or two of teensy key limes and squeeze fresh juice for pie.
Make your own all-natural laundry detergent
One of my cousins uses the grinder attachment to grind up bars of soap into the flakes she needs to make her own laundry soap. At a cost of roughly a penny per load, it's a frugal way to keep her young family in clean clothes. This recipe from Wellness Mama explains the process in considerable detail.
Perfect strained fruits and vegetables
Whenever my grocery store has fresh red currants, I buy the entire lot and make red currant jam. I puree my my quick version with an immersion blender before storing it, seeds and all, in whatever empty jar I have on hand (it never lasts long enough to worry about canning it). The only thing that would make it better is if I could strain the seeds out! Pairing the vegetable strainer with the food grinder attachment does the work of pureeing and straining out the seeds and pulp all in a single step. It's also a great option for parents who prefer to make their own baby food, or even for more grown-up purees like butternut squash soup.
This story originally appeared in Brad's Deals.