Single Girls' Kitchen Must-Haves
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Easy Does It2 of 12
"I say, 'Let the food set the mood.' Don't try so hard to look perfect while cooking. I am such a mess in the kitchen, so I have a collection of vintage aprons. The calmer you are and the less fear you have about your appearance, the more you'll be able to focus on the food and making sure that you have a fun evening."
SHOP NOW: Trousseau Apron, $38
What's Cooking?3 of 12
"If you're going to be in the kitchen cooking, then it has to be a pretty space," says Thomas, who believes that attractive cookware will also entice you to spend more time at the stove. "If you really want to make the kitchen your life, you need to bring your life into the kitchen."
SHOP NOW: Le Creuset Cookware, prices vary
Let's Spoon4 of 12
Your kitchen, Thomas says, is like your closet. "You have your investment pieces and then you have your ratty, white tank tops that you buy in 10-packs. For me, the equivalent of the ratty, white tank top is the wooden spoon. I cannot tell you how many wooden spoons I own, because they are must-have utensils."
SHOP NOW: OXO Slotted Wooden Spoon, $5
Power Player5 of 12
"I love KitchenAid stand mixers—the colors are so much fun. And to be honest, if you want to make bread or if you really want to up your game in terms of making desserts and pastries, then you need something with the horsepower to knead dough."
SHOP NOW: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, $300
Simple & Saucy6 of 12
"When I cook for a guy, I like to choose things that I know are going to succeed. If you've never perfectly cooked a steak, this is not the time to try to get medium rare right," says Thomas. Instead, try Italian sausage, veggies and spaghetti. "Then you can spend the rest of the time primping before he comes over."
GET THE RECIPE: Claire's Go-To Pasta
Fresh Produce7 of 12
"Wine and champagne are predictable, but you can really wow with a refreshing [and] fruity Agua Fresca," says Thomas, who loves making the drink with yellow nectarines and Moroccan mint. "If you buy too much of any fruit, boom: agua fresca."
GET THE RECIPE: Agua Fresca
Baker's Delight8 of 12
"I'm a jazz dork, and I like 1950s bebop. I turn to that music because its percussive nature lends itself to cooking," says Thomas, who recommends Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan or Kenny Durham.
SHOP NOW: '50s bebop music: Cannonball Adderley, prices vary
Takes The Cake9 of 12
"I love this dessert because it takes 15 minutes to make, top to bottom. It's great when you and your guy are watching on-demand movies on a Sunday night, and then you sneak off and come back with two of these molten cakes. It'll make you look like a rock star," says Thomas, who adds cayenne pepper for a little kick.
GET THE RECIPE: Chocolate molten cake
Chef Uniform10 of 12
"When you have someone that you want to impress, all of a sudden the pressure is on," says Thomas. Cut down on the stress with a simple outfit. "Go barefoot, skinny jeans, and I would wear a cute blouse," she adds. "This is definitely a third date situation. You're not doing all of this for a guy on the first date. You've gotten to know each other, and he's already seen you glam."
SHOP NOW: American Eagle Outfitter jeans, prices vary
Dish It Up11 of 12
"I'm obsessed with Melamine plates because they are so inexpensive, they don't break, and you can mix and match," says Thomas. "I am not one of those people who needs to have a dinner set where everything is matching and looks perfect. That can be a little stuffy." Thomas also suggests serving your guy at the table. "I like doing little finishing touches in front of him—sprinkles of this or that, grated cheese or olive oil to top it off. It's endearing and special."
SHOP NOW: Sea of Life Dinner Plate Set by Thomas Paul, $40
Got It Handled12 of 12
"I have burnt so many pans and messed up mac 'n' cheese in embarrassing ways. When you have a supreme failure in the kitchen, you learn from that mistake. It's just food, though. All you have to do is clean your pan, open some windows if you got the kitchen smoky, and then the memory is erased and you can start again. There's always the opportunity to try again."
SHOP NOW: Jessie Steele Polkadot Oven Mitt, $10