Pros: Powerful tool that saves you time and effort
I grew up using a Cuisinart, therefore my opinion of its invaluable worth may be biased. However, this is my all-time favorite kitchen appliance for several reasons.
First, it takes the place of grating anything by hand. I choose to grate cheese for recipes rather than buying pre-grated cheese. The Cuisinart will grate several blocks of cheese in a few seconds with absolutely no effort. Make nachos, quesadillas, casseroles etc. without scraped knuckles from a hand grater!
Second, the Cuisinart takes the place of my mixer. I make quick breads, cookie dough, meatballs, and countless other mixtures with my food processor. For cookies, just cream the butter and sugar together as you would in a mixer, then dump in the dry ingredients and pulse until mixed, then fold in goodies, such as chocolate chips, by hand. With a mixer, you would have to add your dry ingredients in additions! What a time saver!
Third, I would own this machine simply for the wonderful job it does with yeast bread dough. I never enjoyed baking bread by hand because the kneading took so long and often produced an uneven quality. Since trying french bread dough in the Cuisinart, I will never go back to any other method. Just cut the shortening into the dry ingredients with short pulses, add the proofed yeast mixture and pulse to blend, then add ice water slowly while the machine is running. Once the mixture is blended, let the machine run another 60 seconds and the bread dough is kneaded and ready to rise. Simple!!! I use this dough for bread as well as pizza crust - yum!
Finally, the slicing tools are the ones I use the least, but they work wonders slicing any type of small vegetable, such as carrots, zucchini, celery etc. If you ever make large quantities of chopped or sliced onions, celery, carrots, bell peppers etc. for soups, stock, stuffing etc., the Cuisinart will save you lots of time at the cutting board.
After purchasing your Cuisinart, the only thing you will ever need your mixer for is whipping cream. I believe that one of the Cuisinart models has a whisk attachment, but I have never used it. It seems just as convenient to whip cream in a separate bowl and fold it into the mixture by hand anyway.
Another great thing about the Cuisinart is that the bowl, feed tube, plunger and blades are all completely dishwasher safe, which again, saves you time and effort. I have been washing mine this way for five years and everything still looks new.
My food processor came with a recipe book and a video that explains how to use it. Since I have grown up using a Cusinart, I didn't necessarily need either one, but they are great introductions to the product and will inspire you to "convert" your recipes to use the Cuisinart.
Another reviewer recommended to leave the machine on the counter so that you will use it. This is a good idea. If it is easily accessible, you will more likely think to use it instead of chopping or grating by hand.
If you ever need other types of blades (thin slicing, etc.), Cuisinart sells them individually. Also, some people like to have two bowls so that they can make two mixtures without washing the bowl in between. Extra or replacement bowls can be purchased by mail-order as well.
I highly recommend the Cuisinart food processor family. I have a Custom 11 machine and it is the perfect size. I wouldn't suggest buying one that is smaller, because it won't handle bread dough as well. If you are feeding a family, you may want to consider the 14-cup model. It will be able to handle any recipe and the motor will handle bread dough even better than the Custom 11.
If you enjoy cooking or you are just looking for a way to make your life easier, look no further than the Cuisinart. The fun part is discovering that the Cuisinart can help you in almost every recipe that you have!