Have a Go To Appetizer

It’s getting to be that time of year. Soon the invitations will start filling your inbox and mailbox. It may be dinner or a cocktail party or even a fancy holiday party. Invariably you will be asked to bring something; either you’re given an assignment or you’ll be asked to come up with something on your own. I will tell you a secret. I get a little stressed out when this comes up. I always hope for dessert. It’s my thing. So to help ease my mind I make sure to have a nice bottle of wine or Champagne available, to bring. I also, have the ingredients to make a great appetizer; that travels well.

I keep cherry preserves, balsamic vinegar, Brie cheese and crackers. If all else fails you can take just cheese and crackers with some wine. However, here is a recipe that will dress it up and impress your host. Have a festive holiday season!

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Cherry Preserve Balsamic Reduction
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I serve this over Brie cheese with a whole grain cracker. It is a real crowd pleaser.
Cherry Preserve Balsamic Reduction
Print Recipe
I serve this over Brie cheese with a whole grain cracker. It is a real crowd pleaser.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, reduce balsamic vinegar by half.
  2. Stir in preserves and cook until melted and thick. Stir in salt and pepper.
  3. Spoon over Brie cheese and top with warm chopped pecans. Serve with crackers.
Recipe Notes

Extra preserves mixture can be cooled and stored in refrigerator up to two weeks.  Its great over lamb or pork, too.

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Baked Kale and Rice

Baked Kale and Rice
Print Recipe
This is a great Vegetarian main course. You can add chicken if you are not a vegetarian or use it as a side dish.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Baked Kale and Rice
Print Recipe
This is a great Vegetarian main course. You can add chicken if you are not a vegetarian or use it as a side dish.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Cook the kale in a large pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Then immediately drop in ice water.
  2. Squeeze dry and chop. Make sure all moisture is removed before you bake.
  3. Using the same cooking water, for flavor, boil the rice for 10 minutes. Drain and spread out to let cool. I use a baking sheet lined with paper towels. When cool, transfer to large a bowl.
  4. Preheat over to 375° and butter a baking dish. Dust baking dish with 2 Tbs. of parmesan.
  5. Melt 2 Tbs. of butter in a small sauce pan and add almonds. stir until golden and add to rice bowl. Season with Salt and pepper lightly.
  6. Add remaining parmesan, ricotta, jarlsberg, nutmeg, lemon zest, thyme an sage to rice. Add chopped kale and toss well. I use my hands to get every thing mixed in well.
  7. Transfer to baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes until browned.
  8. Serve immediately.
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Simple Pleasures

Swimming in Lake Tahoe.
Swimming in Lake Tahoe.

As a young mother, MANY years ago, I was very idealistic. My children were not going to eat chocolate, too early. High fructose corn syrup would never pass their lips and they would never have frozen or processed foods. Ha! Last summer we vacationed in Lake Tahoe, and were concentrating on the simpler pleasures. We hiked and spent days on the lake. Our nighttime activities were nothing more than dinner out and a movie in the hotel room.

One night, while we were waiting for our table, at dinner, my kids and husband were playing beanbag toss. I must have been in a dreamlike state, when I had a vision of those little girls and the meals I use to make for them. I don’t think there is a kid out there that doesn’t like chicken tenders or nuggets. In an effort to get my kids to be happy campers at dinner I developed my own recipe for chicken nuggets. It was a hit! I always served them with whatever fresh fruit was in season and some sort of potato. I admit that I was too lazy to make my own French fries so I often used a wholesome frozen variety.

As we get back into the busy days of fall, I hope you and your family will take a moment to slow down and enjoy a simple pleasure like homemade chicken nuggets. Oh and we are planning our next Lake vacation.

Chicken Nuggets
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Chicken Nuggets
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cut chicken into 2 bite pieces
  2. In a large ziplock bag combine flour, parsley, poultry seasoning, salt & pepper.
  3. Add chicken pieces to bag a few at a time. Shake to coat and then set aside.
  4. In a shallow bowl stir milk and egg. Put crushed crackers in another bowl.
  5. Dip floured chicken pieces in egg mixture then crackers to coat well. Then place on baking sheet, in a single layer.
  6. Bake at 425° for 10 - 12 minutes, until golden brown
Recipe Notes

My kids love these with ranch dressing homemade or not.

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Camp Culinary

Last summer I got to spend many days cooking, teaching and hanging out with one of my favorite kids. The best part is it was all under the guise of cooking school or Camp Culinary, as I called it. Noah is a freckle-faced 11 year old boy that you will usually find in some sort of team t-shirt and matching everything else. Sports are Noah’s thing.   Cooking is his other thing. He asked for a cooking play set for his 3rd birthday and even though it wasn’t with me, this summer he continued his culinary education with more classes.

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Mom gave me carte blanche. Noah gave me challenges that upped my game.  I suggested we decorate cupcakes and make macaroni and cheese and maybe pasta al la checca. He said “What about Mother Sauces?”.

This kid is amazing. We started with mayonnaise, hollandaise and veloute. Did I mention he made me sharpen my skills? It is very hot here in Southern California and my mayonnaise got way too thin, too fast and my hollandaise got overcooked. He loved it, not because I messed up and he could giggle (which he did), but because it gave him another opportunity to learn. We remade both and they were great! Noah found heaven when dipping a piece of broccoli in the hollandaise, complete with eye roll and tummy rub.

Our first field trip took us to Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles. Noah had been to L.A.’s famed Farmer’s Market and his local farmer’s markets but never to Grand Central Market. The child that sat in my backseat peppered me with questions like he was on his way to Disneyland. How long will it take us to get there? What stand would we go to first? Did I think he would be able to hold a butcher’s cleaver? The questions continued the whole way. I don’t even think he noticed the traffic we were in. I told him our first visit would be to Bel Campo Meats.

I was so pleased at the time each of the vendors took to talk to my young charge and teach him. As promised, first stop was Bel Campo Meats. The butcher took the time to show Noah his meat cleaver and talk about the ways you can cut meat. Did you know that Japan has 200 MORE cuts of the same cow than America? We cut our meat much bigger and have a lot more waste. We learned that cuts, such as the Hangar, used to be used in ground meat or hot dogs. This is because there is only ONE Hangar on each cow. Often it can be cut into two portions but because it is not the tenderest cut it didn’t use to be so popular. The American palette has developed and now we demand flavor as much as the tenderness, so cuts like the Hangar, Flap and Skirt are becoming a lot more popular. After learning all about the different cuts, we decided on a Bavette Steak.

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After the butcher, we learned about seven different kinds of mole and the differences between double cream, triple cream and hard cheeses. We ordered noodles for lunch at the Chinese place and learned that meant soup! We went to the candy stand and the juice bar. Each vendor was another ride, without the long lines.

By the time we got back in the car, we were both exhausted but so satisfied. Before we ever left the parking garage, my little Noah was asleep. It really was a day at Disneyland for him. He was excited to get home and share his experiences and couldn’t wait for our next culinary adventure.  It was truly one of my most memorable summer experiences.

Here is a great way to prepare Bavette Steak. If you can’t find Bavette you can use skirt or flap steak too.

Bavette Steak with Romesco sauce
Print Recipe
I love romesco sauce! It's bread and almonds and deliciousness! It also happens to be super easy to make.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Bavette Steak with Romesco sauce
Print Recipe
I love romesco sauce! It's bread and almonds and deliciousness! It also happens to be super easy to make.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Heat a non-stick pan (I like to use a cast iron skillet) over medium high heat and add 1 T. oil then add onion. Cook until browned. Transfer to a food processor, but don't process yet.
  2. Return same pan to heat and add another T. oil to pan. Toast bread and almonds until just golden. Watch carefully. When ready, add to food processor.
  3. Add roasted red peppers, water, vinegar, 1/4 tsp. salt and red pepper flakes to processor and pulse until well combined.
  4. With processor running add 1 T. olive oil, through top and blend until smooth.
  5. Season the steaks with t teaspoon salt and some fresh ground pepper. Reheat your pan over a medium high heat and add the last T. of olive oil.
  6. Cook steaks until they are brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Flip steaks, reduce heat and continue cooking until desired doneness. A thermometer inserted that reads 130°, will be medium rare after resting. This should take about 12 minutes. Let cook an additional 4-8 minutes for medium to medium well.
  7. Let meat rest, covers with foil, on cutting board, for 10 minutes. Slice very thinly against the grain and serve with Romesco sauce drizzled over it or on the side.
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The Last Hold of Summer

 

Chicken Pallard with Rustic Corn, Tomato Salsa
Chicken Pallard with Rustic Corn, Tomato Salsa

I love to be the first one at my local Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. There is a coolness to the morning air that lets you know Fall is on its way. Sometimes the farmers are still setting up and your chat will be more relaxed than when they are trying to make a quick sale and onto the next “neighbor”. This past weekend as I was strolling through my Farmer’s Market, I was in awe of the beautiful corn and tomatoes. Then the gorgeous fruit of the summer struck me too. Even though, I know some things have already peaked, it sure felt like everything was leaping off the table as if to say “pick me!”.

So I bought those beautiful tomatoes, some sweet fresh corn and the last of the summer blackberries. I also bought some avocados and peaches. As I am writing this I can smell all the freshness. YUM!!! The truth is we don’t spend a lot of time canning and preserving, since we have beautiful produce, year round. Nonetheless, I wanted to feature this beautiful bounty as a slow goodbye to summer.

I grilled chicken, which I had pounded thin (pallard) with just a little bit of lemon, lime, olive oil, salt & pepper. Then I made a rustic corn and tomato salsa to serve over it. The greatest part of the salsa was grabbing whatever I had in my kitchen to add to it. This type of cooking is perfect for using up herbs, vegetables and even leftovers.

I was so excited to share my bounty that I grabbed a shawl; a few friends and we sat outside, on a slightly cooler evening and enjoyed the flavors of the season. Don’t forget a glass of crisp white wine, too!

Rustic Salsa
Print Recipe
I call this a "dump" salsa. You can really use whatever you have leftover. The recipe calls for corn, tomatoes and avocado but I had some leftover peas so those got thrown in there too. This is great for extra herbs too.
Rustic Salsa
Print Recipe
I call this a "dump" salsa. You can really use whatever you have leftover. The recipe calls for corn, tomatoes and avocado but I had some leftover peas so those got thrown in there too. This is great for extra herbs too.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. The truth is mix it all together in a bowl and serve it over any kind of meat. As I said above I pounded chicken thin and gave it a squeeze of fresh lemon and lime juice with a little olive oil , some salt and pepper and grilled fro about 3 minutes on each side. You could easily do fish or steak too.
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Macaron Madness!

Recently a friend asked if I knew how to make French macarons, since she really wanted to learn. I can cook and bake anything so I was sure I could figure it out. When faced with the task, I was stumped. So off to Sur la Table I went, girlfriends in tow, aprons knotted tight and ready to bake. I am now in love with these small sweet treats!

The class focused on classic, almond flavored macaron cookies; the flavor came from the fillings. In class we made a Blackberry Jam and Ganache and Apricot buttercream fillings. The class was great but it only taught us the basics. I knew the cookies could have different flavors and the fillings were endless combinations. I mean these babies are meant to be customized. So, I put my own spin on their recipe and jazzed it up.

Traditionally macarons are made quarter sized. I recommend making them small, bite size, and make a lot! When they’re small, they can be popped in your mouth just like a small candy. I also made a full-sized “Lemon Macaron Tart”, that was out of this world. The lemon curd was extra tart and the macaron was sweet and almond flavored. Delicious!

I have just a few pieces of advice before you dive in.

Make sure you use Almond flour NOT almond meal. I found one , locally, that is called “ultra” fine almond flour.

Use gel colorings and flavorings. You don’t want any added moisture.

Be patient!

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Macarons
Print Recipe
This recipe will get you started making macarons. I hope you will get creative and start adding different flavors and colors to the cookie and fillings.
Servings
35 cookies
Servings
35 cookies
Macarons
Print Recipe
This recipe will get you started making macarons. I hope you will get creative and start adding different flavors and colors to the cookie and fillings.
Servings
35 cookies
Servings
35 cookies
Ingredients
Macarons
Lemon Curd Filling
Crust
Servings: cookies
Instructions
Macarons
  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Place rack in lower third of oven. Fit heavy duty baking sheets with parchment or silpats. They make macaron silpats with circles already drawn.
  2. In a food processor, fitted with the metal blade, put the confectioner's sugar in first then almond flour. Pulse into a fine powder. Do not over process or the powder will become sticky (from the natural oil).
  3. Press (sift) the sugar/flour mixture through a fine mesh sieve. This process may be done up to three times. You are trying to get the smoothest blend possible. You can discard any coarse meal. Set flour mixture aside.
  4. Make the Meringue: In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk, add the egg whites and cream of tartar. Start with a slow speed and whisk until eggs start to get foamy.
  5. Gradually add your sugar and start to increase speed. You can add in vanilla or other flavoring, at this point, before peaks start to form.
  6. Once all the sugar is added, watch closely until stiff, glossy peaks form. You DO NOT want to over beat the egg whites! Think shaving cream, not soap suds. When you have the consistency right, you can fold in gel food coloring. Again be sure not to over work the egg whites when folding in color.
  7. Add the flour mixture, to meringue, in thirds. I find a silicone spatula works best. One more time, do not over blend. You should have the consistency of thick ribbons or lava. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip.
  8. I like to trace my circles on parchment paper as a guide, or use the pre-drawn silpat. Hold the pastry bag straight up and down and pipe small circles. If you are making one large macaron "top", use a 9" pie guide and work in a circular pattern.
  9. Let the macarons stand at room temperature, until they are no longer tacky and the touch of a finger doesn't leave a dent, in the top. The is about 30 minutes.
  10. Bake until crisp and firm, 14-16 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from pan and making sandwiches. Fill with anything from chocolate ganache or jams to flavored cream cheese. Go crazy!
Lemon Curd Filling
  1. Place all ingredients in a large heatproof bowl and put over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not actually touch the water.
  2. Stir constantly as the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. The mixture will heat and thicken in 10 - 15 minutes. Keep a close eye, to not overcook.
  3. The perfect consistency is when the curds coats the back of the spoon without immediately running when a finger is run through it.
Crust
  1. Pulse lemon cookies (enough to make 2 cups crushed) in food processor.
  2. Toss butter and cookie crumbs together and press into a 9" pie dish.
  3. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.
  4. Assembly: Fill crust with Lemon Curd and gently top with Macaron. Bon Appetit!
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Que Gostoso!!

Unless, you’ve been under a rock, you know that the 2016 Rio Olympics are winding down.   They have been really exciting and I have enjoyed watching every moment, that I can. Even when I have not been “watching”, I’ve had my television on in the background, listening. The Today show has made a point of featuring lots of local food and drink each day.

Recently, they showed sweets, a very big deal in Brazil, and they talked about Brigadeiros. My ears perked right up because 4 years ago, at a friend’s baby shower, I was served these delicious Brazilian truffles. I use the term truffle loosely. They are almost like a bite-sized molten chocolate lava cakes, with no cake. When you bite into them they are so smooth and creamy, they ooze creamy goodness; but the sprinkles hold them all together.

While I have asked many times for this recipe, I have never gotten it. The recipe is one of those that each cook has their own spin on, so nobody really gives theirs out. It may also be that it is so easy that it doesn’t seem necessary to share a recipe. I loved, when I saw them, for the first time, they were rolled in pink sprinkles for the baby girl my friend was carrying. You can really customize them to any color. So, I did mine in red, white and blue sprinkles and served them in a gold candy cup. Viva America!

It is your lucky day! I am sharing a recipe. I am sharing a chocolate recipe but stay tuned at the end of the recipe and will share some variations.

Enjoy due gostoso!!

Ingredients
Ingredients

Brigadeiros
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Brazilian Truffles
Brigadeiros
Print Recipe
Brazilian Truffles
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
Chocolate brigadeiros
  1. Melt the butter in pan over medium-low heat.
  2. add the whole can of condensed milk.
  3. Make a slurry of cocoa powder and a tablespoon or two of warm water; add more or less as needed. You are doing this because the cocoa powder doesn't dissolve easily into the butter/milk mixture. You want the slurry to smooth and pliable but not too thin.
  4. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon, constantly. You are stirring to keep the chocolate moving, so it won't burn. Adjust the heat if you need to.
  5. You are looking for the chocolate to start to reduce and get thicker. This could take up to 20 minutes. When it is thick enough you should be able to pull the spoon through the center and have it stay separated a few seconds. Another test is seeing if it holds on the spoon without immediately falling back into the pot.
  6. Once your mixture is smooth and thick, spread it over a pan or plate and put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to cool through. You want it to be "set up", firm.
  7. When the mixture is set, you are ready to assemble. Start by coating your hands with butter. Keep extra close by, you will need to reapply.
  8. Using a small spoon, or melon baller, scoop a small amount of brigadeiro into your hands and roll into a ball. Roll ball in sprinkles. Cover completely. Place in baking/candy cup.
  9. Repeat until all brigadeiro is used. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes to let firm up again, but son't serve too cold.
Coconut Variation
  1. If you'd like to make a coconut brigadeiro, skip the cocoa powder slurry and instead; add 2 teaspoons light corn syrup and 1/2 cup coconut milk to the sweetened condensed milk/ butter mixture. Once you start your stirring process, add 1/2 cup of shredded coconut and proceed as above.
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Valentine’s Day is Red Hots!

Valentines Day is approaching quickly. I admit that my love of the holiday comes and goes. This year I am looking for something simple to do. It seems that this year we are very busy with all sorts of activities, holidays and sports going on.

Tradition says we should give and receive chocolate and other sweets. I think one of the most charming sweets is Red Hots. I love the cinnamon flavor of theses heart shape imperial candies. They are sweet but not super cinnamon-y and spicy. I thought it would be fun to add these cinnamon treats to a butter cream frosting. They add the flavor and a pink and red sparkle to the frosting.

The next question was what to put this fabulous frosting on. I decided on brownies. I really like the contrast of ooey, gooey chocolate with the sweet and spicy frosting. I also happened to dip chocolate chip cookies and even shortbread in the frosting. I don’t think you can go wrong with any baked good. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Red Hots Candy Frosting
Print Recipe
I crushed the heart shaped, cinnamon flavored candy and added it to a vanilla frosting. The result was a sweet, slightly spicy, pink and red spreckled frosting. I put it over brownies and love the way it tastes with chocolate but you use it on anything you would frost.
Servings Prep Time
12 cupcakes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 cupcakes 10 minutes
Red Hots Candy Frosting
Print Recipe
I crushed the heart shaped, cinnamon flavored candy and added it to a vanilla frosting. The result was a sweet, slightly spicy, pink and red spreckled frosting. I put it over brownies and love the way it tastes with chocolate but you use it on anything you would frost.
Servings Prep Time
12 cupcakes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 cupcakes 10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cupcakes
Instructions
  1. Using a hand or stand up mixer, beat butter until it is creamy and light.
  2. Add the vanilla and keep beating on a slow speed
  3. Slowly add confectioners sugar. You will need to scrape the bottom and sides. If you need extra moisture, you may add a teaspoon of milk at a time. Don't overdo the milk
  4. Once all the ingredients are breamed together, fold in the crushed red hots. Make sure they are completely crushed so they don't clog a frosting tip.
  5. Frost your treats
Recipe Notes

I had a hard time finding Red Hots in the grocery store.  I may have been too early.  However, you can usually find cinnamon imperials in the cake decorating aisle.  They are really the same thing.  You can really use ay cinnamon flavored candy.

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Super Bowl Clam Chowder

This is an update to the blog that was originally posted in 2016!. “when you know better you do better.” I recently was going back through some recipes and found that either I didn’t proof well (probably) or didn’t save right. The end result is some inaccurate recipes. This weekend is this years football playoffs an awe are also looking at some super storms across the country. Make this updated Clam Chowder and stay warm!

This year’s Superbowl is a big deal! It is the 50th annual game. It is being played at Levi’s Stadium, a completely state of the art facility, opened in July 2014. And the Carolina Panthers are making only their second appearance in franchise history!

Levi’s Stadium is touted as being ground breaking with their green technology and sustainability. They are known for their green roof, solar panels and utilizing recycled water for irrigation and public restroom use. The contrast of this modern facility against the backdrop of San Francisco’s historical Fisherman’s Wharf is unique and awe inspiring.

Fisherman’s Wharf was founded by the influx of immigrants that came to the San Francisco area during the gold rush. And quickly became known for its Dungeness crab and clam chowder. The Sourdough bread phenomena started when French bakers bit into their traditional recipes and found that they had gone “sour”. Eventually, it was discovered that a specific strain of bacteria formed because of the moisture in the air in San Francisco, but the bread and flavor was so synonymous with the city that it endured!

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California and the rest of the country promise to be under cold weather conditions on Superbowl Sunday. Clam chowder is a perfect warming food for your party. Here is an easy and lower calorie recipe. You can get fancy and serve in hollowed out bread bowls or just in a pot on the stove.

"Light" Clam Chowder
Print Recipe
This recipe uses skim milk and less flour to achieve a lighter version of traditional New England Clam Chowder
Servings
12 cups
Cook Time
35 minutes
Servings
12 cups
Cook Time
35 minutes
"Light" Clam Chowder
Print Recipe
This recipe uses skim milk and less flour to achieve a lighter version of traditional New England Clam Chowder
Servings
12 cups
Cook Time
35 minutes
Servings
12 cups
Cook Time
35 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. Cook the bacon in a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, until crispy. Remove to paper towel to drain.
  2. Turn heat down, to medium low, and stir in onion, celery, salt thyme and garlic. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add liquid from clams, potatoes, bottled clam juice and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
  4. Combine milk and flour. Whisk into pot and bring back to a boil. Cook 12 minutes, stirring frequently, to prevent burning.
  5. Add clams and cook 2 more minutes.
  6. Serve hot with crumbled bacon on top. For fun serve in hollow out bread bowls.
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A Pantry in Three Parts

To paraphrase Julia Child you should never makes excuses for your food.  Whether it is good or bad everybody already knows.  After a five month absence, I’m back.  This is for you Carl!

My pantry is my comfort zone, a larder that has evolved over twenty years of cooking every day. It is my haven and where I go to feel safe. I can look at my pantry and see nothing; my sister looks in my pantry and thinks, “This is where I’m going after the apocalypse.” My pantry is where I go to get my creative juices flowing. It is often where I go to have fun. I can always find a spice, or some ingredient that will spark whimsy and often a party.

There is no one size fits all. You have to start with a few rapid-fire questions. I mean it! Don’t think about your answers. Say the first thing that comes to your mind.

1- what is your (family’s) favorite home cooked meal?

2- what is your breakfast, every morning?

3- what is the meal you cook every week? This may not be the same answer as #1.

4- when asked to bake for a bake sale or office party, what is your go to recipe?

5- when you stand in front of your pantry or refrigerator, what do most often eat as a snack?

6- what is the one recipe that gets the most reaction, wow factor, when you serve it?

Write the ingredients from all your answers down. This is where you will start building your pantry. Be honest with yourself, too. When I was single I may never have thought of turkey burgers. I sleep soundly, now, knowing I have my go to ingredients on hand.

Now I face the conundrum of the well-stocked pantry. Mine is in three parts: Everyday, Panic and Entertaining. Everyday- Here I am a Mom that feeds her family. I can make lunch, snacks, and dinner for my family. This pantry makes me feel nurturing. Panic- this pantry may well have some overlap with Everyday.   It has the most basic of ingredients for a quick breakfast and at least chocolate chip cookies for a last minute bake sale. This pantry makes me feel safe. My last pantry is for Entertaining. Here you may find an atypical ingredient, like cherry preserves or capers, in mine. This is the pantry that may get stocked when a specialty ingredient is on sale or as the holidays approach and you know you will be living it up. This pantry excites me. For me some days are utilitarian and on other days I just want to have fun. My pantry in three parts lets me indulge any mood.

Your Everyday pantry will be very personal to you. Here is a glimpse into my Everyday pantry

A quick breakfast item – For me this is grits. For you it may be cereal or pancake ingredients. I like to keep these items at waist high level. That way the kids can be a part of the decision.

We always have PB&J at home – that means not only the best quality peanut butter, but also an almond butter to swipe on a banana for a snack. Because this gets used so often it is on the same shelf that includes the snack items, like dried fruit, or pita chips (for hummus)

A few dinner ingredients – I always have dried pasta on hand and some sundried tomato paste.   Sometimes you just have to throw it together quickly and that means dried pasta and jar sauce. I keep sundried tomato paste to stir into jar sauce and give it a richness and fresher taste. I try to keep my pastas, sauces and rice all on the same shelf.

Basics – I always keep cans of tuna (I like the Italian kind canned in olive oil). I like to keep chicken and vegetable broth on hand. They are both great for adding flavor to cooked rice, pasta and vegetables, instead of water. We love tomato soup with grilled cheese so there is usually a box or two of Pacific brand tomato soup. I also use the sundried tomato paste in here and maybe some Pomi diced tomatoes to doctor it up. These items I like to keep all on one shelf.

Baking – I always have flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder on hand. I also make sure there is always a bag of chocolate chips. This makes it easy to do a cake, muffins or cookies at a moments notice.

Spices – I am pretty selective about what spices I will keep on hand. I have small shelves built into the side of my pantry, just right for holding an array of small bottles and jars. However, spices can go bad or lose their potency, quickly. For that reason I try to only “stock up” on the ones I go through quickly. You can see I need to do a New Year purge.There are spice stores popping up that you can but in small, or customized quantities, even some farmer’s markets have spice vendors. I love flake salt so Maldon Salt is always on hand. I love the way a fresh grind of nutmeg can add a secret flavor to cheese dishes so I usually have a couple of whole nutmeg in the house. My husband loves heat so we always have a large container of chili flakes. My daughters love cinnamon and I love garlic so these are staples too. For the cinnamon I give in and buy the Cinnabon cinnamon. They love it so why not? I love a product called Garlic Gold. It is chopped, roasted and then freeze-dried garlic that has amazing flavor. You can buy it dry or packed in olive oil. I use both versions.

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Speaking of oils, here is my take. I always have a vegetable oil. I don’t really have a preference of canola or corn. I have a less expensive olive oil for cooking and I have a really high-end olive oil for dressing. When I say high end, I mean you would and could just eat a spoonful of it. It taste that good. One I really like is Laudemio. It has a beautiful green color and a peppery taste.

Alright, get started! To help inspire you, here’s my recipe for Oatmeal Buttermilk Muffins. It’s one of my favorites from my everyday pantry.

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Oatmeal Buttermilk Muffins
Print Recipe
This is an easy muffin to make with your well-stocked pantry. This is also a great recipe to add some mix-ins, like chocolate chips or dried fruit.
Servings
12 muffins
Cook Time
12 minutes
Servings
12 muffins
Cook Time
12 minutes
Oatmeal Buttermilk Muffins
Print Recipe
This is an easy muffin to make with your well-stocked pantry. This is also a great recipe to add some mix-ins, like chocolate chips or dried fruit.
Servings
12 muffins
Cook Time
12 minutes
Servings
12 muffins
Cook Time
12 minutes
Ingredients
Topping
Servings: muffins
Instructions
  1. Soak oats in buttermilk, for 15 minutes, in a large bowl.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder,baking soda, salt and cinnamon, in a small bowl.
  3. Stir egg, sugar, oil and vanilla into oat mixture.
  4. Add dry ingredients to oat mixture and stir until just combined. Don't overwork.
  5. Line muffin tin with paper liners. Use an ice cream scoop to fill each cup so they are uniform size.
  6. For Topping, stir together butter, oats and brown sugar. Sprinkle over each muffin before baking.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.
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