TV Chef and Author Writes About How She Selected Fave Under-$20 Kitchen Gadgets

The TV chef and author's picks include adjustable apple slicer and cake lifter.

Feb. 18, 2010— -- How do I come up with our selections for the "GMA" segment, "Kitchen Gadgets, $20 and Under"?

Well, it is a lengthy process. My producer and I look through kitchen catalogs and Web sites, we reach out to kitchenware stores, and we talk to friends to find out if they have any new favorite kitchen toys. When we find new gadgets, my producer calls them in and I test them at home.

It usually takes several months to select the choices that will make it on to the show, although, I am on the lookout virtually all year long for cool, new affordable kitchen gadgets.

So, what are our criteria besides "kitchen" and "$20 and under"? The gadgets must:

1. Be new

2. Be truly useful

3. Speed up prep time

4. Not take up too much kitchen real estate

5. Be easy to clean and store

I also take the instructions in to consideration. And this is where many gadgets have not made the "GMA" cut. Sometimes there are no instructions or the instructions are lacking in detail.

Many of the gadgets we choose, some new garlic press or vegetable slicer, for example, could be replaced by a plain old knife or other basic kitchen tool, but I realize that not everyone is so fast with a knife. At the end of the day, it is really all about getting dinner on the table in a timely fashion.

I will admit that I am turning into a bit of a geek from testing all these products. I gave all my relatives a sugar dispenser for Christmas (dispenses just a half-teaspoon at a time with a mere push of a button, hooray!!) and I cannot live without my can opener that opens cans without creating sharp edges. At this point, these silly gadgets make cooking even more fun for me. As my husband says, "It is all about having the right tool for the job."

Click HERE to read Sara's answers to viewers' questions!

Chef Moulton's Favorite Gadgets for Less Than $20

Gadget: Bag cap

Cost: $6.00

Why: The product keeps bagged food fresh and easily accessible. It eliminates the need for twist ties, clips and storage containers, and has ingenious lids that attach to any bag and pop open for easy pouring. It's freezer and dishwasher safe. The round and oval shapes to cover almost any bag.

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Gadget: All-purpose pinch grip

Cost: $5.00

Why: It's ideal for lifting hot pots, pans and lids, as well as for gripping oven racks, cookie sheets and more. A ridged inner surface provides a secure grip for super slippery items. Grips stay cool and are made of dishwasher safe silicone.

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Gadget: Adjustable apple slicer

Cost: $19.95

Why: Unlike most apple slicers, this tool produces two sizes of sliced apples. With a single downward push, its stainless steel blades core an apple and cut it into either 16 thin, uniform slices for use in baking and cooking, or eight thick wedges for eating by hand. The handles provide a sure grip, and a safety cap for storage is included. The slicer is hand-washable.

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Gadget: Stem Gem

Cost: $7.95

Why: The product's unique design hulls strawberries effortlessly. The push-button mechanism is simple to use. The fun strawberry design is easy to find in a drawer, and the Stem Gem is top-rack dishwasher safe.

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Other Faves Include Cheese Slicer, Cake Lifter

Gadget: Multipurpose slicer

Cost: $9.95

Why: Top off salads, tarts and desserts, and create fabulous snack servings with this one simple tool. This unique slicer with a handle makes slicing fruits and vegetables quick, easy and virtually mess-free. The device creates equal slices, and the stainless steel blades slice cleanly through foods. The slicer is lightweight, durable and dishwasher-safe, and it's ergonomically designed for comfortable control.

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Gadget: Cheese slicer

Cost: $10.00

Why: This tool makes it easy to create perfect slices of cheese for burgers, panini and more. The easy-to-use, one-handed design features three thickness settings, a rolling guide-bar and stainless-steel blade. This slicer is top rack dishwasher safe.

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Gadget: Cake lifter

Cost: $12.95

Why: This tool will allow you to lift and move cake layers, rolled piecrust, or multiple cookies the easy way. The 8-inch-square giant spatula features a stainless steel blade and a comfortable handle. The fine edge slips neatly under that big floppy piecrust to transfer it to the pie pan. If you're trying to stack 9-inch round cake layers, pick them up with this handy tool. The sturdy blade has just the right flex, and it's dishwasher safe.

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Gadget: Corn Zipper

Cost: $12.95

Why: Kernels of corn bring their summer-fresh sweetness to soups, salads and salsa. This tool quickly, safely strips an ear of corn: A pair of extra-sharp teeth slides between the kernels and cob to remove several rows of at a time. Simply grip the barrel handle, rake the corn from end to end and watch the kernels drop into a bowl. The blade is made of heavy-duty stainless steel. The handle is polypropylene. The corn zipper is top-rack dishwasher safe.

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