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Part four of a series of posts about the items regularly stocked in my kitchen.

Kitchen Inventory: Herbs, Spices, and Seasonings

Wondering if you’ll ever use all those spices in that rotating spice rack? Probably not, and if it’s more than six months old, throw it out! Instead, build your own herb, spice, and seasoning inventory based on the flavor profiles and cuisines your family enjoys. Be careful though, until you’re sure you’ll use a lot of a certain item, buy it in the smallest quantity available (dried herbs and spices only maintain their flavor and potency for about 6 months).

 The following list is certainly not exhaustive, but rather a collection of things I keep on hand at all times. I do almost all of my primary cooking with these items and keeping them on hand also offers a variety of safe possibilities when I need to make a meal at a moment’s notice.

Dry Items:

  • Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Black Peppercorns, Whole
  • Chile Powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground Clove
  • Cumin
  • Dill Weed
  • Honey
  • Kosher Salt
  • Mustard
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Rosemary Leaves
  • Sugar, granulated
  • Thyme

Cold and Fresh Items:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Brown Mustard
  • Celery Leaves
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Onion, yellow and green
  • Worcestershire Sauce
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Part three of a series of posts about the items regularly stocked in my kitchen.

Kitchen Inventory: Baking Staples

This is obviously not an experienced baker’s list of staples, as I am a novice baker at best. Still, these ingredients allow me the ability to produce a variety of quick breads, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, popovers, cookies, granola, pies, cobblers, cheese cakes, and regular cakes at a moment’s notice.

I would love tips on how to extend my list as well as how to make it healthier and more natural.

Dry Items:

  • Unbleached Whole Wheat All-Purpose Flour
  • Unbleached Whole Wheat Flour
  • Cake Flour
  • Rolled Oats
  • Corn meal (blue and yellow)
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Dark Brown Sugar
  • Confectioner’s Sugar
  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • Baking Soda
  • Aluminum Free Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Clove
  • Yeast
  • Unsweetened Cocoa
  • Shortening
  • Canola Oil
  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Food Coloring
  • Nuts
  • Dark Chocolate Chips
  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Butterscotch Chips

Cold Items:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Cream Cheese
  • Sour Cream

Part two of a series of posts about the items regularly stocked in my kitchen.

Kitchen Inventory: Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

A note about buying fresh and seasonal produce: 

We prefer the texture and flavor of fresh produce, especially if it is locally grown. Buying seasonally helps ensure that you’re getting the most nutritious and flavorful produce possible. Seasonal produce has less distance to travel and that hopefully means it’s spent more time in the sun and less time in a packing crate.

Other important issues when purchasing produce: GMO crops and pesticides. You can start here to learn about genetically altered food and go here to learn about pesticides.

 Check this post for the reason why I don’t buy canned produce.

Year Round Staples:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Russet Potato
  • Garlic
  • Yellow Onion
  • Green Onion
  • Green Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato

Seasonal Additions:

Winter

  • Clementines
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Pears
  • Sweet Potato
  • Cranberries

Spring

  • Tangerines
  • Pineapple
  • Greens
  • Zucchini

Summer

  • Melons
  • Pineapple
  • Berries
  • Stone Fruits (Cherries, Peaches, Apricots, Plums)
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Corn

Fall

  • Honeycrisp Apples
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato
  • Cranberries
  • Asparagus
  • Eggplant
  • Corn

Apple Galette

serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pie crust
  • 1 large honeycrisp apple (or two regular tart apples)
  • 1 1/2 T cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T water
  • 1/2 T granulated sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Peel and core apple, slice thinly.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine apples, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix until apples are evenly coated.
  4. Place pie crust on a parchment covered baking sheet.
  5. Arrange apples evenly in center of pie crust, leaving a two inch edge all around.
  6. In a small bowl, combine egg and water.
  7. Lightly brush egg wash over inner edge of pie crust.
  8. Loosely fold edge of pie crust over apples, pleating about every two inches.
  9. Lightly brush egg wash over outer edge of of pie crust.
  10. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake until crust is golden, 30-40 minutes.
  11. Move parchment and galette to a cooling rack. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes.

Creamy Oatmeal with Pears

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 c water
  • 1 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 large pear, peeled and diced small
  • 2 T dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions:

  1. Bring water to boil in a medium sauce pan. Stir in oats, boil for 5 minutes.
  2. Cover, let stand 5 minutes.
  3. At the same time, melt butter over medium heat in a small skillet.
  4. Add pears, sugar, and cinnamon.
  5. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  6. Stir pears into oatmeal.
  7. Cover and let stand 5 more minutes.
  8. Stir, and divide into 4 bowls.
  9. Top each serving with 1/4 c milk. Serve immediately. (If storing leftover oatmeal, do not top with milk until ready to serve.)

Peppermint, Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup, plus 2T all purpose whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 t kosher salt
  • 1 t pure vanilla
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 3/4 crushed candy canes

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl beat butter and sugars at medium speed until creamed.
  4. Add egg,  salt, and vanilla to the sugar and mix thoroughly on low speed.
  5. Add 1/3 of the flour mix until well blended. Continue until flour mix is gone.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips and crushed candy canes, being careful not to overwork the dough.
  7. Drop dough in 1 1/2″ balls on a dark baking sheet about two inches apart. Use two spoons to make each cookie uniform and do not overcrowd the pan. Extra dough can be refrigerated or frozen. 
  8. Bake at 375 for 8 minutes. Let stand on pan for 2 minute before moving to a cooling rack.

Part one of a series of posts about the items regularly stocked in my kitchen.

Kitchen Inventory: Dried Beans and Grains

  • Black Beans: Great in hot and cold side dishes, soups, stews, and chilis, salads.
  • Small Red Beans: Used for red beans and rice, chili with beans, side dishes, soups and stews.
  • PintoBeans: Great for Mexican dishes like baracho beans, refried beans and burritos.
  • Navy Beans: The only way to make authentic Boston baked beans. Great for white chili, creamy soups, and white stews.
  • Lentils: Perfect for a low fat, high protein replacement of ground meat in any dish.
  • Quinoa: Actually a seed, but treated as a grain. Serve hot or cold.  Treat similarly to rice. Gluten free super food packed with amino acids, protein, and iron.
  • Couscous: Actually a rolled semolina pasta, but treated as a grain. Serve hot or cold. Treat similarly to rice. Packed with vitamins and minerals.
  • Israeli (or Pearled) Couscous: A larger variety of traditional couscous.
  • Brown Rice: More hearty and nutritionally valuable than white rice.

Five reasons I don’t use canned beans:

  1. Buying in bulk is a much better value.
  2. Little or no packaging means less waste.
  3. The average can of beans, depending on the variety, has anywhere from 200-560 mg of sodium per serving.
  4. Canned beans contain a myriad of chemicals used for both the packaging and preserving of the bean.
  5. We greatly prefer both the texture and taste of dried beans.

A note on the convenience of dried beans:

Many people think dried beans are less convenient than their canned counterparts. This is just not true! Dried beans can be soaked overnight in large quantities and then frozen in serving sized portions for later use. Defrosting them takes just as much time as opening the can!

 

Cafe Au Lait, New Orleans Style

serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 part milk (the higher fat the better)
  • 1 t confectioners sugar
  • 2 parts brewed coffee with chicory

Instructions:

  1. Heat milk over medium, stirring frequently, until it begins to steam, about 5 min. Do not boil.
  2. Stir sugar into milk.
  3. Pour coffee with chicory over milk, stir lightly.
  4. 

Chicken Stock

Ingredients:

  • chicken parts, cooked, uncooked or both
  • fruits and veggies
  • water
  • 1 T kosher salt (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Fill largest stock pot you have half way with chicken, veggies, and fruit.
  2. Fill pot with water, leaving about 2 inches at the top.
  3. Boil for about 30 minutes, then set to medium low until everything is soft and mushy.
  4. Let cool.
  5. Strain through a colander, then through a fine mesh sieve.
  6. For reduced fat stock, let cool until the stock forms a layer of fat on the top. Skim fat off. Otherwise, store in 2 cup containers and freeze for later use.

Rather than a set recipe, this stock is only a framework to use to get a lot of value out of a little bit of money. For less than $4, you can purchase a 4 lb chicken which is large enough to feed 4 people at least twice, plus have the ingredients for 15-20 cups of stock. Each cup of chicken stock costs only a few pennies, where purchasing quality stock would cost about 50 cents per cup! 

To have the ingredients for this stock on hand at any time, begin to make a habit of bagging and freezing fruit and vegetable cuts that you would normally throw out when preparing other meals. Veggies that are getting soft or beginning to wilt are also great to use. While preparing whole chickens or bone-in chicken pieces, bag and freeze the innards, necks, and bones as well.

When choosing what vegetables to incorporate into your stock, think of the flavors you enjoy paired with chicken. I primarily use root vegetables (except potatoes) and citrus fruits. The fruits and veggies you use will only slightly lend their flavors to the stock, so you can experiment with anything.

This recipe can also be used for any other stock by substituting the appropriate protein, or no protein at all for vegetable stock.

10 Ideas For Leftover Ham

Breakfast:

  • Diced ham, green onion, and Gruyere cheese incorporated into an omelette or scrambled eggs.
  • Replace bacon or sausage with sliced ham in your favorite breakfast meal.
  • Diced ham “hash” pan fried with onions, garlic, diced potatoes and a dash of salt, pepper, and dill. 

Lunch:

  • Diced ham and grated cheddar for a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.
  • Cold ham salad with diced ham, sweet peas, diced swiss, apple and celery, mayo, dill, salt and pepper.
  • Finely diced ham, spinach, softened cream cheese, salt, pepper, and a dash of lemon juice mixed together and spread over a whole wheat tortilla.

Dinner:

  • Diced and mixed into homemade mac and cheese, topped with panko bread crumbs.
  • Diced and served generously over baked potatoes with tangy barbeque sauce, butter, sour cream, sharp cheddar, and green onions.
  • Julienned and mixed in with lightly steamed broccoli, garlic, and melted cheddar cheese. Broil for a minute to get a crunchy top.
  • Ham sliders on fresh yeast rolls, cut open and toasted. Served with a cayenne aoili, fresh spinach, a slice of mozzerella, and a slice of tomato.

About the Cook



I'm a busy wife and mom who knows the value of a meal that can be prepared quickly. I prefer to cook with whole foods and you will almost never find a prepared food in my recipes or my pantry.

This blog started as a way to recall recipes that I've created and now I am excited to share them with you! Bon Apetit!
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