Episode 17: Stress Free Cooking at Home

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

The phrase, "What's for dinner?" has new meaning in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. With most restaurant dining rooms closed, people are having to cook at home, causing them stress. Listen in as we discuss how to adjust your new dining lifestyle without the stress.

Circa 1968. This is the red tartan jacket I wore to dinner that I lent to my Uncle Bobby to wear. I wish I had a picture of him as a 6 foot 200 pound adult wearing it.

Katy’s Top 10 Things to Keep in Your Kitchens

1. Broth of some kind. This will enable you to cook SO many things! Soups, dishes on the stove; you can use it for sauces, or add just a little to a dish to keep it from drying out while cooking. Broth can be stored in so many ways too! Dry cubes in the pantry - just add to hot water, paste form - stored in the refrigerator after opened - same thing just add to hot water, canned or in a box (refrigerate after opening), OR you can make your own, freeze it, and then thaw it out when you need it! Freezing tip: freeze broth in an ice cube tray and store in zip lock bags! This will provide quick access when preparing a meal!

2. Protein. Whether it’s meat, beans, tofu, other lentils. Always have protein available and make sure you have 5 or so healthy recipes on hand that use that protein! For example, I always keep beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp in the freezer and at the ready. There are endless possibilities you can create with just a few ingredient changes.

3. Cheese. This lovely ingredient can be sprinkled, sliced, and placed on practically anything to create a delectable dish. There are truly endless possibilities with cheeses in your kitchen. My favorites are parmesan, cheddar, mozzarella, and gouda.

4. Eggs. These little babies can be prepared in so many different ways and are essential to a kitchen. Breakfast meals, boiled or deviled eggs as a snack, baking, in smoothies, homemade ice cream, pasta dishes, and much much more.

5. Olive oil and butter. Olive oil can be cooked with as well as drizzled over completed dishes (pasta, grilled fish, and vegetable sides to name a few). My favorite way to use olive oil is to slice up any vegetable, toss in olive oil, and add spices. Throw these veggies on a baking sheet in the oven at 425 degrees for about 20 - 25 min and, enjoy! Butter can be interchanged or combined with olive oil in a number of recipes, but is also key for baking!

6. Greek Yogurt. This particular yogurt can be substituted for sour cream or mayonnaise in many recipes, smoothies, desserts OR it can be eaten alone with granola, fruit, and honey.

7. Honey. It’s the bee’s knees! Honey is a perfect alternative to other sweeteners, and can be used for homemade marinades, glazes, salad dressings and much more! It is also great for baking, adding to your tea, drizzling over yogurt, fruits, cheeses, and smoothie bowls. Try to source local raw honey because it contains a blend of local pollen which can strengthen a person’s immune system and reduce pollen allergy symptoms. It also has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties and promotes digestive health! 

8. Spices & fresh herbs. Fresh herbs pack a surprising amount of antioxidants in their small leaves and will add a wonderful flavor to most any dish. They can also give new life to leftovers, and take a pre-prepared dish from tasting bland and generic to tasting like a homemade masterpiece! My favorites are sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, basil, oregano, rosemary, dill, thyme, lemon pepper. Let’s not forget mint.

9. Lemons & limes, their juices. Both of these lovely fruits contain tons of vitamin C, antioxidants, and minerals that provide a range of health benefits. Their juices, and in many cases pulp or rind, can add delicious flavor to many dishes AND are also necessary for a lot of baking recipes. You can also add a wedge of either of these two to many cold or hot drinks for instant flavor.

10. Rice/Pasta. These are good for a plethora of meals, not just spaghetti or chicken and rice. By switching up the type of noodle, sauce & protein, you could have a different genre of cuisine every night for weeks!

11. Veggies. Fresh, frozen, and canned. Vegetables are so important to our daily diets and can be used as side dishes, meal accents, or whole meals themselves. We always keep canned tomatoes to use in sauces, add to stuffing for peppers, and to mix with ground beef in a number of other recipes. I always have fresh frozen corn in the freezer as well! This can be a stand alone side dish, added to pasta salad, or mixed with other veggies to create a yummy medley. My favorites to keep on hand are: avocados, spinach, onions, peppers, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, beets, cauliflower, and broccoli. Tip: If you ever find yourself with a fresh fruit or vegetable that you aren’t going to use, but you do not want to waste it, you can usually always chop it up for reuse in a smoothie or other dish at a later time.

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