For me, the arrival of September is always bittersweet. Bitter because it's the end of my favorite season; sweet because it's my birthday month and I like to treat myself to multiple celebrations! Since students return to school, September is also a time of getting back to the basics. The weather turns cooler and as we welcome Fall, the grill is retired in favor of more slow-cooked methods. To make the transition more tolerable, we've rounded up the items we can't live with out: here are our must haves.
Michael Chiarello's Bottega
Since he left the Food Network to return to the kitchen, I've seriously missed the Easy Entertaining chef Michael Chiarello. Luckily, his new cookbook, named after his Napa restaurant, Bottega  ($40) comes out this month. It's sure to be full of Italian specialties.
Kraft Sandwich Shop Flavored Mayo
Back to school doesn't have to be back to boring lunches. I love Kraft's flavored mayonnaises  ($2.99) to jazz up sandwiches. They come in four fab flavors: chipotle, hot and spicy, horseradish-dip, and garlic and herb, so there's something for everyone.
Basil Hayden's Bourbon
We're always interested in trying different spirits, and we're currently crazy about Basil Hayden's small batch bourbon  ($40). It's smooth, luscious, and absolutely wonderful sipped on the rocks after dinner.
Kopali Organics Chocolate-Covered Fruit
It's going to be a busy 30 days, and when I'm in need of a scrumptious on-the-go snack I toss Kopali Organic's chocolate-covered fruit pouches  ($21 for a pack of six) into my purse. My favorite flavor of the fair-trade item? Chocolate-covered dried bananas.
Stainless Steel Multi-Cooker
I don't have a huge pot to make stews, soups, and pastas in, so it's high time I get one: Happy birthday to me! This All-Clad multi-cooker  ($150) holds 12 quarts, meaning it's big enough to steam whole lobster.