Valentine's Day is nearly here. The restaurants will be packed, even if you have a reservation (White Castle has even become a hot Valentine's Day ticket), so it might be best to stay in with a home-cooked meal. And thanks to the power of fast shipping, you still have time to buy a kitchen gadget that will help you create a good meal for the special day.
Sous vide immersion circulators
Steak immediately comes to mind when you think of a nice meal. You'll have a top-notch filet if you use a sous vide immersion circulator. Here's how they work: You fill a pot or large container with water. Stick one of these devices to the side of the container and set the temperature. The immersion circulator will then heat the water, which creates a water bath in which you can cook food. (You can read more about this method of cooking, called sous vide, here
Sous vide is a great way to cook a steak. Based on what temperature at which you set the water, the steak will cook to your preferred level of doneness. You can also use sous vide to cook fish, poultry, vegetables and just about anything you can throw in a bag.
This sleek $200 immersion circulator works with Amazon's Alexa assistant, so you can give voice commands to start and stop the device if you have an Alexa-enabled smart speaker. You can order the Joule from its website and it will ship in one to three business days. It's also eligible through Amazon Prime two-day shipping.
This immersion circulator will probably be the easiest to get your hands on this week. The Anova, which starts at $130 for the Bluetooth-only model, is available at Target, Best Buy and Amazon, along with Anova's website.
This $250 immersion circulator is a bit heftier than other immersion circulators we've seen, but it still gets the job done. The WiFi Nomiku is available at Williams Sonoma online, Amazon with Prime shipping and Nomiku's website.
The Instant Pot is having a moment right now. This electric pressure cooker can handle a lot of different foods, from cake to stews to big cuts of meat, so it would easily handle Valentine's Day. This $80 model is available on Instant Pot's website, and you can find other models on Amazon with Prime shipping and Walmart.
You need to make sure you've hit a food-safe internal temperature if you're cooking meat for you and your boo. I like the $70 Meater wireless thermometer, a gadget that's just a little bigger than an ink pen. You stick it in your meat of choice and monitor the internal temperature from your phone. The Meater is available on its website and is a good investment even after Valentine's Day. If you need a meat thermometer fast, they're easy to find in the kitchen section of stores like Target and Walmart.
Not everyone is a great cook, and it's too late to become Gordon Ramsay in time to please your beloved. An air fryer like the Delonghi Multifry 1363 that uses less oil to fry foods could be a good way to upgrade your frozen food game.
When we tested the $230 Delonghi, frozen food like these waffle fries came out crisp without adding any extra oil. If you're in for a Valentine's Day dinner of nuggets, fries and pizza rolls, you can get the Delonghi on Amazon with Prime shipping, Delonghi's website, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
In my book, dessert is just as important as the main course. A connected kitchen scale like the $100 Perfect Bake Pro. The scale connects to an app and walks you step by step through a recipe. It uses weight to determine how much of an ingredient you need to add, so you don't have to worry about getting measuring cups dirty. The Perfect Bake Pro is available on Amazon with Prime delivery (where you can also get a $50 version that's currently on sale).