Author Archives: Candie

Why Culinary School?

I have been asked a number of times why I decided to attend culinary school. I have been around the culinary world for 20 years in one form or another. I have done recipe formulation, food journalism, lecturing on numerous subjects, catering, and run a food truck. I have a business background with plenty of experience in management. So why would I decided to go to school now? I am a knowledge sponge and I feel like I always have more to learn. I know I want a future in the culinary world and I wanted not only let the world know that I am serious chef but to prove to myself that I have what it takes to live my dream. I felt that if I was able to add CIA graduate to my resume I would be ready for that dream. I probably could have found a niche for myself without a degree but I felt that attending the CIA would not only give me the knowledge I am missing but help me start networking in the culinary world. I don’t think I could have found a better location to help me network because I have met an amazing array of chefs through the school and I will meet many more before I graduate.

CIA San Antonio

CIA San Antonio

Has my cooking improved?

This is something I didn’t expect but YES it definitely has made me a better chef. I was very rustic and I lacked a lot of refinement before. I was good chef before and had a lot of fans but those same people are now even more impressed because I have been able to improve my dishes significantly. I was a little offended the first time my husband told me that my cooking had improved but after some expletive laden complements I am proud that my dishes now elicit that kind of response from people. It was a mix of learned techniques and just having a heightened awareness of what I am doing in the kitchen.

 

Is Culinary School worth the cost?

I don’t know that all culinary schools are worth the cost. A number of my classmates had attended other schools before coming to CIA. They all stated that they felt those other programs were half hearted and did not provide the level of skill and knowledge they wanted. I also feel that in the culinary world collaborating with other chefs helps you grow and provides future opportunities. The CIA is the best school when it comes to meeting established chefs who want to share their knowledge with you and help you find your place in the culinary world. They are constantly bringing in chefs and hosting conferences so that the students get a chance to network and access to these chefs. I feel like just the knowledge you get from the school alone is worth the cost but when you add in the priceless experience you get with these chefs it makes the CIA a no brainer if you are really serious about being part of the culinary world.

What is my dream?

Unlike most of my classmates I don’t feel the urgency to open my own restaurant. I have run businesses long enough to know that I am in no big hurry to tie myself down to that kind of responsibility again. I want to freelance and develop a couple lines of products that I can sell locally. I also want to work on this blog and bring it back to the active community that it used to be. I would love to get a restaurant review job here in San Antonio. Deep down in the back of my mind I do have one restaurant that I would like to bring to life here in San Antonio. That restaurant would be similar in concept to a little place my family and I used to frequent in South Bend, Indiana. A little Irish Public House where celtic music is always playing, the tables are a mix of large shared and small tucked away and the beer and food is a mash of traditional Irish and San Antonio. The location would have to be small and cozy with a sense of history to it. I feel like it will come to be one day but it is as far back on the back burner as it can get. I have a name to build and niche to find for myself before I worry about the Pub of my dreams.

What am I doing now?

I am trying to network in the local chef community as much as I can while I finish my classes. I am scheduled to graduate in December 2017 and my plan is to have a small commercial kitchen where I can experiment with some product ideas I have and test them out at some local farmers markets. I want to play with my fresh kimchi and kombucha recipes and maybe even some sauces. When my food truck was active we had a lot of people who loved our homemade kimchi and fresh kimchi is something that most people don’t know anything about. I would like to play with those first and see where it takes me. The one thing that I have always been good at is finding a niche in the market and providing something else that no one else is offering. I hope I can use that ability in combination with my palate and skills to make some profitable products. I am going to use my time outside of class when I am not doing homework to scout local offerings and markets and try to find the underserved markets and products. I will be sharing some of that with you but I will be keeping the important parts to myself for now while I develop my business model.

-Candie

Have questions? Want to suggest something? Leave me a comment!

Honey I’m Home!

Uniformed Selfie

The last year has been a whirlwind and it has made it nearly impossible to blog. I started the year out by going back to college as a Culinary Arts student at the Culinary Institute of America. That wouldn’t have been so bad on it’s own but I also kept working my regular job until fall. I was so busy that I missed out on several chances to work with visiting celebrity chefs that came to the school for events. I felt like I was hurting the experience I should be getting so I finally quit working in early fall. This gave me some breathing time but then I agreed to be a tutor and while it kept me available to work with chefs I still didn’t have time to blog. I was balancing all this with being a Mom and trying to make sure all the duties that come with that got done. I am not sure if it is the mom or chef in me but I cannot leave the house unless I know my kids have a hot meal ready for them. I learned a ton and improved my skills more than I ever imagined.  I will be sharing a lot of my new found techniques and recipes with you over the next few months. I promise!

Chef Millan sculpting ice

January of this year I started what the school calls an externship where I go to work for a restaurant of my choice within the network of approved sites. The head chefs that these locations sign a contract saying they will teach me the basics of everything that goes on at the location. I chose a large local country club that does large scale catering onsite but also has a traditional restaurant and a more high speed grill restaurant. Those three things basically cover the gambit of the restaurant industry that I wanted to experience. The only thing I was missing was high end gastronomy and that is something I would like to develop on my own anyways. So I have worked the last 4 months at the Country Club rotating jobs and learning everything I possibly could. I was moved into a line cook job  for the last month, which at this location, is a really coveted job. If I wasn’t excited to get back to school and finish my degree I could have easily stayed but I have plans for after graduation and I am itching to get that rolling as soon as possible. The entrepreneur in me just won’t let me stay in a regular job. I always want to be out there creating and working for myself.  I will share those plans with all of you as things finalize.

My Garde or Pantry station

Here I am in my last week of externship, with all my homework assignments done and ready to turn in. I finally have time to sit down and breathe. You don’t know what a luxury it is to sit down until you work as a chef! My plan from here is to attend school during the day and finalize my plans for after graduation and blog at night. I have tons of recipes and interesting articles bouncing around in my head and I can’t wait to share them with all of you! My goal is around 3 posts a week but you might see many more because I have so many unfinished posts sitting around.

 

I would love to hear from all of you and answer any questions you may have about culinary school, being a chef, whatever!

Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks

Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks

Thanksgiving for most is a day of relaxing and eating yourself into a food coma but for those of us responsible for preparing that gust busting meal it can be anything but relaxing. For the home cook producing 5-7 dishes plus dessert in a single meal can be very overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. All it takes is some planning, advanced preparation and some tips and tricks from the pros will not only make your meal preparation simple but also improve the quality of your dishes.

Where to start? I start at least a week before Thanksgiving by choosing what dishes and desserts I want to serve. Print those recipes out, I suggest writing them out on a recipe card so they are more convenient then a pile of papers while your cooking. Take those recipes and create a shopping list for yourself. Make sure you are meticulous with this because the last thing you want to do is have to run out to the store at the last minute when the stores are just insane. Once you have your menu selected you will need to analyse your selections and determine which of those dishes or parts of those dishes that you can prepare the day before and in what order they need to be prepared so that you have enough oven space and time to get everything done in time for the meal.

I unthaw my turkey the day before Thanksgiving by placing it in a sink filled with cold water and then leave the tap on a bare trickle. This keeps the water moving and cool which will unthaw the turkey faster than just a still body of water. Is this safe? Yes it is as long as the water stays cold and you move it to the refrigerator as soon as it feels flexible and pliable. I also brine my turkey because the flavor and moisture levels are markedly better than a non-brined turkey. I will put the turkey in the sink in the morning and by late afternoon it is ready to be placed in the brine and refrigerate overnight.

Another turkey tip is to make sure you pull your turkey out of the refrigerator about 2 hours before cooking. You need to let it come up close to room temperature and allow the skin to really dry so that it will cook evenly and the skin will be crispy. If you take your turkey directly from the the refrigerator to the oven or fryer it will increase the cook time and cause some parts of it to overcook while others struggle to reach temperature.

If you want your roasted turkey to have a rich mahogany color than you should dry the skin well and then brush or rub it wil melted butter. Basting while the turkey is cooking is good but make sure you stop basting about a half hour before the end of cooking time so that the skin can crisp back up again.

Most dressing and casseroles can be made ahead of time and refrigerated overnight. Reserve any toppings for just before you place the dish in the oven so that they will brown properly. If you don’t want to make them the day before then you should cut up your ingredients and have them ready to prepare the finished dish without having to pull out your cutting board.

Desserts should be prepared the day before and their flavor will benefit from the chance to relax meld when they are covered and refrigerated overnight.

Your turkey stock should be made the day before because it takes 4 hours at least to make a good pot of basic stock. I feel this is one of the most important part of meal preparation because your gravy and stuffing or dressing require a really good stock for full flavor. I purchase turkey necks, wings and or legs and give them a light sear in the stock pot before adding water. See my Basic Stock recipe for the best professional technique for a good stock.

Finally if you make your own gravy then there are two ways to thicken them either with a rue of flour and fat or a cornstarch slurry. If you use a rue or flour to thicken your gravy make sure you give it at least 45 minutes to simmer because otherwise it will have a raw flour flavor. I can vouch that this really does make a big difference in the flavor. When you use a cornstarch slurry you need to make sure you don’t use to much because it will turn your beautiful gravy into a lump of brown jelly. Slowly drizzle in the slurry and stir and it will reach full thickness within a few seconds if the gravy is at a medium simmer. I suggest you add a bit and stir and give it a bit to see the thickness before you add anymore slurry. If you want to boost flavor you can use cool turkey stock as your liquid for the slurry.

If you have any questions or suggestions let me know! I will be posting suggestions while I cook today on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

 

Basic Stock

Basic Stock

Basic Stock

Cook Time: 4 hours

Yield: 1 Gallon

Ingredients

  • 8 lb. Bones
  • 1/2 lb. Onion, quartered & peeled
  • 1/4 lb. Carrot, peeled, rough chop
  • 1/4 lb. Celery, rough chop
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 3-4 Parsley stems
  • 1 tsp Peppercorns, cracked
  • 1-2 Sprigs of Thyme
  • 5 qt Water, cool

Instructions

  1. If you are making chicken or pork stock then the bones are firsh blanched to remove blood and impurities so that you end up with a clearer better tasting stock. To do that cover the bones with cool water and then bring the water up to a simmer and wait for the water to turn from pink to a light grey. As soon as the water turns grey drain the bones and rinse well. Now your bones are ready to start the stock.
  2. Place bones and measured water into a pot big enough to offer a couple inches of space for the additional ingredients and protects you from boiling over. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and immediately lower the temperature to low so that it a very low simmer that is just lightly bubbling occasionally. Start tracking time once you hit a boil.
  3. After 3 hours of simmering add your Onion, Carrot and Celery which is also known as a standard Mirepoix and the Bay, Parsley, Peppercorns, and Thyme which is also known as the Sachet E'pice. Cook for an additional hour then drain through a fine mesh strainer into either a metal container that can be placed in an ice bath to chill for future use or another pan for immediate use.

Notes

Stock is not salted because it is used for bases for other dishes and it is best to wait and salt those dishes as they are made so that the end product does not end up over salted.

http://www.culinarycafe.com/2016/11/23/basic-stock/

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 0

Yield: 8

Pecan Pie

This recipe for pecan pie is very basic but absolutely decedent. I suggest serving it with a bit of whipped cream to cut the richness.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 unbaked 9" pie shell
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F,
  2. Beat eggs, vanilla, sugar & salt. Add butter & syrup & mix in pecans.
  3. Pour into crust
  4. Bake 40-45 minutes in pie shell.
http://www.culinarycafe.com/2016/11/22/pecan-pie/

Lion House Rolls

Lion-House

Lion House Rolls

These tender buttery Lion House rolls are like the combination of a croissant and the standard parker house dinner roll.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2/3 cup nonfat instant dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 5-5 1/2 cups flour (you can use all-purpose or Biscuit flour)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted, plus softened butter for brushing on top after the rolls are baked

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water and the milk powder and stir to dissolve the milk. Add in the yeast and a tablespoon or so of the sugar and allow the yeast to bloom for 5-10 minutes. Add in the remaining sugar, salt, butter, egg and 2 cups of the flour.
  2. Mix on low speed until all of the ingredients are wet, then mix on medium for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add 2 more cups of flour, mix on low until combined, then on medium for 2 minutes. The dough will be getting stiffer at this point. Continue adding flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough is soft and tacky, but not sticky.
  3. Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size.
  4. Sprinkle a work surface lightly with flour. Divide the dough in half. Roll out one half of the dough into an 11x14-inch rectangle. Brush the top of the dough with half of the melted butter. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough in half horizontally right down the center. Slice the dough into rectangles about 2x4" big. If you hold your hand out so that your hand forms an "L" shape, it can help to be your guide for sizing.
  5. Roll or flip the rectangles, buttered side in, and place on a greased baking pan with the end resting on the baking sheet. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
  6. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375F. Uncover the rolls and bake until they are browned and cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Brush with softened or melted butter while they are still hot.
http://www.culinarycafe.com/2016/11/21/lion-house-rolls/

Sweet Potato Casserole With Praline Topping

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole With Praline Topping

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6

If you make this Sweet Potato Casserole for a family dinner make sure you take a couple copies of your recipe because people will ask for it.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (5-ounce) can fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, roasted and peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup stick margarine, melted
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring to form a streusel. Set aside.
  3. Mash your sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Stir in 1 cup streusel, granulated sugar, vanilla, egg white, and milk. Spoon into a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray; top with remaining streusel. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.
http://www.culinarycafe.com/2016/11/20/sweet-potato-casserole-with-praline-topping/

How to make Thanksgiving Dinner without breaking a sweat

cooked-turkey-1

I have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my extended family for almost 20 years. Not all of those dinners went smoothly. Like the year I forgot to make the mashed potatoes or the year I forgot the rolls in the oven and turned them into bricks. I have picked up so many tips and tricks over the years that now making Thanksgiving is simple and easy. With just a little prep a day or two before Thanksgiving you can actually enjoy the holiday alongside everyone else.

First thing I do every year is look at my menu for the day. Mine was based on what my family served when I was a kid and updated slightly with a deep fried turkey and my own spins on the old recipes. You don’t cook this menu more than twice (Thanksgiving & Christmas) so it is ok to have the exact same thing because your family will not get tired of it. I admit my Thanksgiving dinner is lacking in vegetables but my family gets at least one or two servings of vegetables with every normal meal so I don’t feel bad about not serving them on this special occasion.

My traditional Thanksgiving menu consists of –

Deep Fried Turkey – This is a must and this recipe can also be used on a hardwood smoked turkey for more juicy results.

Giblet Cream Gravy – I actually withhold the giblets from this recipe and use them in my dressing recipe.

Sage Turkey Dressing – This recipe is one that has been in my family for as long as I can remember and is my favorite. My dirty little after Thanksgiving treat is to take cold slices of this and make sandwiches out of it.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Praline Topping – If you make this Sweet Potato Casserole for a family dinner make sure you take a couple copies of your recipe because people will ask for it.

Decadent Mashed Potatoes – These are the best mashed potatoes ever. Being part Irish they make me proud.

Lion House Rolls – These tender buttery Lion House rolls are like the combination of a croissant and the standard parker house dinner roll.

Cranberry & Mandarin Orange blend – A can of whole cranberries and a can of Mandarin oranges mixed together and chilled.

Pecan Pie – This recipe was the most sought after pecan pie recipe on the web for years.

Sour Cream Apple Pie – Some people are prejudiced against sour cream so just say its apple pie until after they have taken their first bite and then they will be in love.

Hot Mulled Cider – Family members show up and look for this first thing because it is so good.

First thing to do while planning out your meal preparation is to go down the list of ingredients you need for each dish and make sure you either have them or they get on your shopping list. Double check the items you think you have because half the time I think I have them but I really don’t because one of my kids have done away with them recently. Make sure you get extra turkey parts like wings or legs to make your turkey broth because I find you don’t get enough flavor from just a neck and giblets and once in a while those are missing from your turkey. This was a tough lesson learned one year when the turkey was missing its giblets and my local grocery stores were all either closed or out of turkey parts.

The nice thing about this menu is that you can either make ahead or have most of the preparation done the day before Thanksgiving that way you are mostly just waiting on things to cook. This lets me actually enjoy some time with my family instead of rushing around the kitchen. The first thing I do each year is get my turkey in its brine. They can set in the brine for up to 48 hours but I prefer right around 24 hours. This lets me get my giblets out of the turkey also so I can make my turkey broth. You can either use a pressure cooker to make your turkey broth or you can cook it low and slow so you can all the flavor and gelatin out of the bones. I like to brown my turkey bits before boiling them so that the flavor is richer. I also like to include a half an onion, celery, a carrot and a clove of garlic along with some herbs like thyme, sage and a tiny bit of rosemary. Don’t waste fresh herbs on this. The dry stuff will turn out just as well. Once your broth is done strain it well and save all the meat and giblets for either your gravy or your dressing. Refrigerate and remember to remove the solidified fat from the top before you use.

I will usually make my pies one or two days ahead of time that way they get proper time to cool. Make sure you hide them well because hungry children are known to steal entire pies. I also put my cans of mandarin oranges and cranberries in the refrigerator at least a day ahead of time that way I can just throw them together at the last minute without worrying about chill time.

While I am waiting on the broth I will throw my sweet potatoes in the oven on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or throw them in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes. Make sure you peel them right away after you take them out of the oven because they will just slide out of their skins. It will be much harder after they cool. I just throw them in the refrigerator until I am ready to put together the casserole. While I am waiting on the potatoes to bake I chop my onions, carrots and celery for my dressing.  If you are making rolls you should have your dough made and refrigerator proof it overnight. This makes it quick to get them done the next day and it also improves the flavor.

Once all that preparation is done you are ready to relax and rest up for Thanksgiving morning. Some key tips for Thanksgiving morning is to have a prep list for yourself so you don’t forget anything. Mine looks something like this.

1. Remove these items from refrigerator

  • Dough
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Turkey Broth – Remove the fat right away
  • Turkey – 1 to 1 1/2 hours before you plan to cook the turkey

2. Make Sweet Potato Casserole

3. Make Dressing

4. Prep Turkey for Frying then fry – Dry well and rub with olive oil, salt and spices

5. Form Rolls and let rise

6. Make Mashed Potatoes

7. Make Gravy

8. Bake Rolls

9. Make cranberry and mandarin mix

Tips for the turkey which are true for both a roasted or fried turkey. Make sure you take your turkey out of the refrigerator early enough so that it comes up to close to room temperature before you bake it. This will help it to cook more evenly and will make it more juicy. The key to the juiciest turkey is the brine ahead of time which imparts the moisture and flavor throughout the bird and not just where you injected it. The last thing to remember is to always let your bird rest tented in foil for about 10 minutes after you remove it from the oven or fryer. This lets the moisture redistribute and will keep it from gushing out everywhere when you cut it instead of remaining in the meat. Turkeys that are brined and rested properly will be moist and juicy even as a leftover.

I hope these tips and tricks will help you to not only have a more delicious dinner but one you can enjoy from beginning to end!

 

 

My Must Have Kitchen Christmas Gift List

I have an over accessorized kitchen. It is hard to find a appliance or gadget that I don’t have because I collect them obsessively. I spend hours and hours in the kitchen and I love to do out of the normal type of dishes or preparations. I have put together my list of kitchen Christmas gifts at some great holiday bargain prices!

 

 Pepper Mill

If you aren’t grinding fresh pepper in your food you are missing out on the incredible flavor of freshly ground pepper. This grinder has a ceramic grinding mechanism which means it will last a long time and you can use it for both salt and pepper. Another great ideas is putting your favorite dried herbs in one of these and grinding them on demand to release more essential oils.

OXO Pepper Mill

OXO Pepper Mill

 Electric Pressure Cooker

I often wish I had two of these because I use mine constantly and could do double duty with two. I make fast delicious bone broth, make ham and bean soup in less than two hours from scratch or just steam sweet potatoes into fluffy, moist, deliciousness. The use for this pressure cooker is endless and you will never file it away in the cabinet.

Instant Pot

Instant Pot

 

 Knife Sharpener

The one thing that I cannot stand is a dull knife. It is amazing what a difference it makes using a finely honed knife versus a dull one. I know you probably have a steel but a steel only removes rough spots from the blade and does not actually sharpen the blade at all. If you haven’t had your knives sharpened in the last 6 months than you are suffering through dull knives that make everything you do more difficult.

 

Diamon Sharpener

Diamon Sharpener

 Immersion Blender

The tool that the infamous “Two Fat Ladies” dubbed this tool the kitchen vibrator, is my favorite tools when making sauces and soups. Transferring hot liquid to a blender to smooth soups is a messy and dangerous adventure that can be avoided entirely with this little beauty. This also lets me use vegetables to thicken my sauces without dirtying my blender. I think everyone should have one hiding in their cabinet.

Immersion Blender

Immersion Blender

Sous Vide

This tool is a busy cook’s best friend. You put together your meal in vacuum bags and set the temperature and time on your machine and go conquer the day. All you do it maybe give your meat a finishing sear and your perfect meal is complete.

I have my eye on a Mellow when they come out because it just looks and sounds too cool.

Anova Sous Vide

Anova Sous Vide

 Nespresso Espresso Machine

I know you don’t directly cook with an espresso machine but you do make beverages that are necessary for me to have a fruitful day without ripping anyone’s head off. I am not always a fan of espresso but I have found that I can rely on Nespresso pods to always be delicious!

Nespresso

Nespresso

Interested in other items that I think are worth having in your kitchen? Check out my Amazon Store.

 

10 Things to Keep in Your Kitchen to Make Cooking Easy

 

Make Cooking Easy
Whether you enjoy cooking or not, it’s one of those necessary parts of life. Having a well-stocked kitchen can make the whole process more enjoyable and efficient. When you have a kitchen that’s organized and full of the right tools and ingredients, you can always make a delicious meal without having to spend the time on a 5 o’clock run to the grocery store. Here are ten important things every kitchen needs.

1. Pasta or Rice
Keeping pasta on hand means you can have a filling meal on the table in under 30 minutes. Whether you make stovetop mac and cheese or simple spaghetti and marinara sauce, you can feed a lot of people with a single box of pasta. If you avoid gluten, choose rice or alternative pasta instead.

2. Frozen Veggies
Frozen veggies are less expensive than fresh and higher in nutrients because they’re picked at the peak and frozen immediately. Keeping vegetables on hand means you always have a side dish, and you can even make a quick main course of stir fry.

3. Measuring Cups
Having a good set of measuring cups is essential for any kitchen. Choose a durable material such as stainless steel or pyrex and make sure the markings are permanently etched rather than painted on so they won’t fade or disappear.

4. Eggs
Keeping eggs (or egg substitute) on hand gives you a multitude of options for every meal. Omelets, scrambled eggs, frittatas and quiche work equally well at any time of day and are fairly quick and simple to make. You can also make hard boiled eggs to keep in the fridge for a healthy and protein-packed snack.

5. Frozen Meals
Whether it’s a frozen pizza from your favorite brand or a homemade enchilada casserole, a frozen meal is a perfect solution for those nights when you just don’t want to cook. You’ll save the hassle and expense of ordering takeout and get dinner on the table quickly.

6. Slow Cooker
A slow cooker is one of the most versatile kitchen appliances. There are new models that even function as pressure cookers as well like the Instant Pot, which I use almost daily. This tool lets you prep your meal in the morning and cook it all day even when you aren’t home so it’s perfect for people with busy lifestyles.

7. List of Go-To Recipes
Take stock of your usual cooking routines and write up a list of your favorite go-to recipes. I use the mobile application Cozi to not only store my recipes but help me make my shopping lists and plan my meals. Keep all the ingredients on hand and you’ll always have an easy option for dinner even if you haven’t meal planned or grocery shopped in a week.

8. Good Knives
Knives are no place to skimp when it comes to quality. A good knife can last a lifetime when cared for properly. Look for high-quality materials and choose knives individually rather than in a set. Most cooks really only need two or three good knives and it’s best to pick styles that feel comfortable to you. As a chef I find that there are really only two knives that you need in your kitchen and a good knife sharpener because those knives if kept sharp may last you a lifetime. I suggest a good chef’s knife, pairing knife and a 3 stage sharpener.

9. Sandwich Fixings
A sandwich is another great go-to meal. Whether you like a loaded club sandwich or a simple grilled cheese, there’s something magical about the combination of bread, condiments, meat and cheese. Choose good-quality sliced bread and fillings. Don’t forget the seasonings and condiments. Healthy HamptonCreek flavored mayo is a great way to add extra flavor to your sandwich without overloading on cholesterol or artificial ingredients. Add a piece of fruit to your place and you have a complete meal in no time at all.

10. Good Cookware
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a shopping spree at the fancy kitchen store, but every kitchen should have a few high-quality pots and pans. A large nonstick skillet, covered Dutch oven, a small saucepan and a stockpot will give you the ability to make just about any recipe. If you enjoy cooking, you can expand your collection to include cast iron and specialty pans.

A well-stocked kitchen makes cooking easy and can give even novice cooks inspiration. Keeping your pantry stocked with ingredients such as rice and pasta means you can make a meal quickly, especially with eggs and some vegetables from your freezer. Keep a frozen pizza or casserole on hand for those nights you just don’t feel like cooking and make good use of your slow cooker. Invest in quality knives, measuring cups and cookware. Choose high-quality sandwich ingredients to keep on hand for another quick, healthy meal option and enjoy knowing you can put dinner on the table easily.

 

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