There are a few kitchen appliances that are must haves – oven, microwave, refrigerator – then there are some that we get just because they make us happy. Here is a salute to five appliances or “kitchen helpers” that just make us happy!

1) Slow Cooker

Despite the name, this is the fastest way to let your food cook itself, with a little time to itself. Stews are simple & super tender. Just set it up at the start of the day, loading in your favorite dish & then you can work while it does, too.

2) Ice Cream Maker

I love my little ice cream maker because it makes me smile. It’s another set it and forget it gem – even though this one, unlike the slow cooker, can get a bit noisy. Still, for my money, nothing beats a sweet delicious homemade dessert, especially a peppermint one!

3) Popcorn Maker

You can make popcorn in the microwave or on the stove and both make delicious popcorn, but for my money, nothing beats the cute feeling of having homemade airpopped popcorn. It also helps that they make such cute varieties now – including this one, which is a lovely splurge of a popcorn maker made to look like a movie theater with a customizable marquee. If you want to jazz up your popcorn, how about trying to make popcorn balls for your next gathering?

4) Waffle Maker

There’s nothing quite like the little doughy pockets of a crisp waffle. Why not try tossing in chocolate chips to your favorite recipe sure to drive your kids wild – right after you, of course!

5) Popsicle Maker

There’s something about a popsicle that makes even the most stubborn eater delight. They just feel like summer even in the middle of the coldest storm. Why not make a watermelon popsicle all your own?

There you are: five ways to let your kitchen light you up. What do you think? Is there one more you wish made the cut? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you. –Cindy and Eric