Top 10 Herbs and Spices needed for a Well-Stocked Kitchen!

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I get a lot of people who ask about my spice rack- what do I keep in my kitchen, since we cook at home so much. I made a list of what I use, then I polled my Facebook friends. Below is a reflection of what we use most at home, plus what most of my foodie friends use too all combined into a handy dandy top ten list!

I prefer spices and herbs from Penzey’s– They have the best quality and a wide variety. They tend to be a little more expensive, but they are very high-quality herbs and spices, and you will use much less than their cheaper counterparts. If you have a Penzey’s store near you, it’s worth checking out. Join their mailing list- they frequently have coupons for freebies and really good deals (and free shipping sometimes too if you don’t live close to a store). Penzey’s also sells their spices on Amazon!

  1. Mural of Flavor
  2. Cinnamon
  3. Cumin
  4. Chili Powder
  5. Italian Seasoning
  6. Oregano
  7. Ginger
  8. Bay Leaves
  9. Paprika
  10. Turkish Seasoning

These are of course in addition to Table Salt, Kosher Salt, a pepper mill for freshly cracked pepper, roasted garlic, granulated garlic, toasted onions, onion powder, and air-dried shallots. For me, these are pantry staples and every kitchen should have them, as they are used in so many recipes, in addition to the 10 above.

 

Talk Back: What are some of your favorite seasonings?

Weekly Meal Plan!

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Bitty and I hit up grocery Outlet and Food4Less yesterday and picked up everything we might need for this week. Has anyone noticed how expensive celery is lately?

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids.  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and the Little Bit, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently).

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: Cheese enchiladas, beans, steamed broccoli
  • Tuesday: Kids had pizza- Their last two Book-it certificates expire tomorrow. I’ve got a pot of chicken soup on the stove. I’ll either toss in fusilli pasta or Rana cheese and uncured bacon ravioli.
  • Wednesday: Rollup sandwiches and kale salad (Kale, apples, chopped almonds, and apple cider vinaigrette)
  • Thursday: Leftovers
  • Friday:  Dinner out
  • Saturday:  Grilled Cheese and soup (It’s definitely soup weather!)
  • Sunday:  Meatless night! The kids will have Morningstar Farms nuggets, and the grownups will have black bean burgers. Sides will include fruit salad, carrot sticks and some sort of dip.

 

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week?

Family Recipe: Abasitas

I haven’t done a family recipe in a while. My mom made a batch of these recently and sent me home with a few.

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na na na na na na na na na- Bat Plate!

Turnovers, hand pies, pasties, kolaches, whatever you call them, I love them. Eating with your hands is done in almost every other culture on earth, but us westerners tend to frown on it.

 

My mom invented these rich, savory turnovers based on the flavors that I loved as a kid (and still love). It’s a pastry or yeast dough exterior, filled with cheese, chicken, breakfast sausage, and green chilis.

The batch she made last week used crescent dough that was rolled out. You may be able to see the remaining perforation in one of the photos.

In the past, I’ve used my pizza crust recipe (found here). It’s really up to you what kind of dough you use for exterior. Crescent dough is rich and buttery, and I think it works well for this recipe, so it’s what I’m going with. You can get the crescent dough in one large sheet if you want and cut it up, or, we used the regular rolls, and just did 2 crescents per hand pie.

Abasitas 

(Makes 16-20 depending on type of dough used)

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped up (You can also use 1.5 cups of chopped up rotisserie chicken meat)
  • 1/2 lb of Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage, cooked, crumbled, and drained of fat
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 4 oz. can Ortega Chilis, chopped 
  • 1 batch pizza dough (recipe linked above), or 4 tubes crescent roll dough

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix first five ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Roll out/unroll dough; Separate into 4 rectangles. Pinch together perforations to seal up.  If you are using another type of dough, roll out on a floured surface and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into approx. 8×5 rectangles.
  4. Place approx. 1/4c of filling in the middle of each piece of dough. Fold over, and seal edges of the dough by pinching edges together, you can also crimp the edges with a fork.
  5. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet (I always use parchment paper– it makes clean up easier) for approx 12-15 minutes until the dough is golden brown.
  6. Remove cookie sheets from the oven and allow hand pies to rest for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Allow to rest a few more minutes before devouring.
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Yummy cheesy filling!

I serve these with a green salad. They are good cold the next day too. They make a great picnic addition.

After they have cooled completely, store them in the fridge or the freezer. You can reheat them in the toaster oven!

They are a great food to batch cook.

1/21/19 Weekly Meal Plan

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Mr.husband is doing a cleanse with a few friends this week and next, so the menu this week is extra healthy. The kids and I will will be eating some similar foods, it’s hard to convince the kids to eat kale and steamed salmon night after night.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

You may notice a lot of plant based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. I also keep sandwich ziploc bags of  other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or a protein shake for me and the Mister, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

This week is going to be a little different tan usual. With Mr. on the cleanse, we’ll be eating a lot of whole foods/vegetables raw, and an old family friend steel cut oats will be coming to breakfast.

  • Monday: Pot roast, steamed broccoli, applesauce
  • Tuesday: pan seared herbed chicken (or salmon), quinoa/wild rice blend, roasted carrots
  • Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner- pancakes (Kodiak flap jacks), fruit salad.
  • Thursday:Stir fry veggies and cauliflower “rice”
  • Friday:  Homemade pizza night (Mr. will be having salmon and veggies)
  • Saturday: Salad bar night: mixed greens, kale, and whatever types of veggie bits I pull out, various nuts, and dressings. The kids love cheese on their salads too.
  • Sunday: Leftoverpalooza

 

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week?

Free E-Books!

mf809.jpgIf one of your New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, eat better, and get healthy, here are a few awesome free e-books from Amazon. Remember, prices on Amazon can fluctuate- so it may not be free for long!

 

Talk Back: What is your favorite healthy snack?

It’s Back! Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I cleaned out the pantry last week. There was a lot of weird/unusual stuff- Thanks to my food blogging/cooking endeavors. I also went through the fridge and tossed a bunch of condiments that were of various “vintages”.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

You may notice a lot of plant based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. I also keep sandwich ziploc bags of  other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or a protein shake for me and the Mister, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

This week is going to be a little different. There is going to be some traveling this week, so I’ll be relying more on my freezer stash.

  • Monday: Table5 Pizza and Fruit Salad
  • Tuesday: Chicken Tetrazzini with brocolli (Hooray for 1 pot meals)
  • Wednesday: Pesto Pasta bake (it’s a new recipe I’m working on- if it turns out well I’ll post it later this week).
  • Thursday: Grilled Cheese sandwiches made with Chef Shamy Garlic Butter and sharp cheddar cheese, Homemade Tomato Soup.
  • Friday:  Stir fry veggies and cauliflower “rice”.
  • Saturday: Spanish Rice casserole- Sausage, Spanish rice, and veggies.
  • Sunday: Leftoverpalooza, or breakfast for dinner.

And I’ll be making some cookies with Kodiak Flapjack mix (Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies), and at least one batch of Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins.

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week? 

Recipe: Stuffed Squash

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This is a very hearty dish! Perfect for cold winter nights!

On Sunday, we made dinner for a friend. She’s a vegetarian, and we wanted to make something hearty, filling and nutritious. After searching for a few stuffed squash recipes, and hitting up the grocery store, I picked up a butternut squash. Originally I wanted a acorn squash, but most of the stores were wiped out from Thanksgiving.

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Fruits and veggies cooking in stock. Juicy Gems add a nice tart aspect to the dish.
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The Chopped Squash “guts”

We chose ingredients that were healthy and worked well together. This recipe is naturally vegan and Gluten free. There is an option to top the squash with poached eggs, if you want a little more protein.

This recipe is a little more work than my usual fare, but it’s really tasty and makes A LOT.  To save time I used one of the bags of Mirepoix (pronounced meer pwah)I had prepped and froze last week. If you don’t do prep cooking, check your local grocery store freezer case for frozen mirepoix.

I get all of my spices from Penzey’s. They have 67 stores across the country, and you can order from their website too. They frequently have coupon codes for free samples or shipping when you place an order- It’s worth a google search!

You can serve this as a main dish or a side.

Stuffed Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 2 small Granny Smith Apples, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 2 cups onion, diced (I used a sweet onion)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (15 ounce can approx.)
  • 1 ounce pouch of Juicy Gems dried pomegranate arils
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp. French Tarragon
  • 1 tsp. Rubbed Sage
  • 1 tsp. French Thyme
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 T. Air Dried Shallots

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Directions:

  1. Cut Squash in half, remove seeds/membrane. Brush with oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Bake at 425 for 30-45 minutes, until squash is fork tender.
  3. While squash is cooking, In a large pan, melt butter, and saute fruit, veggies, and spices/herbs. Cook over low heat for about 20-30 minutes. Add garbanzo beans, arils, and broth. Cook for another 20-30 minutes or so, or until broth is mostly absorbed and garbanzos are tender.
  4. As the stuffing cooks, once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out about 1/3 of the squash. You want to create a cavity for the stuffing. Set the “guts”  aside- You can chop it up and add it to the stuffing, or serve it on the side (I just ate it with butter while the stuffed squash cooked).
  5. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet, and fill the cavities with the veggie stuffing. Top with more salt and pepper, as needed.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side dish. For added protein when served as a main dish, top each portion with a poached egg. Not sure how to poach an egg? Alton Brown has a great tutorial here. 

 

Talk Back: What is your go-to Vegetarian dish? 

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