Category Archives: pasta

Kitchen Tip Thursday ‘Pantry Staples’

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It’s Thursday, so that means it’s Kitchen Tip Thursday! Today’s tips are all about Pantry staples. These are items you should have in your pantry. 

Garlic: Slice, dice it,  mince it, crush it, roast it, sauté it, grill it. You can buy fresh garlic in whole cloves or already chopped in a jar if you don’t want to do the work. 

 Extra Virgin Olive Oil: EVOO as some call it. You need some type of fat to cook in. This has antioxidants that help lower cholesterol and give your food flavor. 


Stocks or Broths: Use broths in place of water to add some zip to your dishes like rice, string beans or cabbage.

Spaghetti Sauce:  Great shelf life, buy a variety of flavors to have on hand. Quick meals, just add pasta.

Dry Pasta: Yes pasta, all shapes and sizes. Just add spaghetti sauce or EVOO and you have a meal. You can add vegetables, seafood, poultry or beef.

Rice: Quick-cook, whole grain, long grain, flavored. Brings a variety to your meal, just add veggies or some meat.

Canned Tuna or Salmon:  Mix eggs and breadcrumbs and you’ll have some patties. Quick sandwich to put together, add some cheese. On a Summer afternoon mix together with some pasta for a quick salad. Choose water-packed tuna.

 Dry Beans: Dry beans taste better than canned beans. Allow time for beans to soak. If you are new to beans start with black, kidney and pinto beans in your pantry. You can always have canned beans on hand, especially if you are in a rush.

Peanut Butter: Great on sandwiches but get creative. Add to dishes to create an Asian flare. Use it as a snack with crackers or veggies. Also great for cookies!

Canned Tomatoes: Salsa, pasta, potatoes. Fresh tomatoes are nice but when they are out of season these are next in line.

 Baking Soda and Powder: Baking recipes call for them. Helps with cleaning and keeps your fridge fresh.

 Onions: Red or Yellow. Great for sauteing meats, add to pasta dishes or salads. Gives off a great flavor.

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Use stock instead of water when cooking vegetables and deglazing pans.

Convection Oven: An oven equipped with a fan that provides a continuous circulation of hot air around the food.

Pinch: The amount of dry ingredients you can hold in a pinch (between your thumb & forefinger). It’s equivalent to 1/16 teaspoon

Out of brown sugar, mix granulated sugar and molasses together.

Spray measuring cups or spoons with cooking spray before measuring honey or molasses.

Broccoli stalks, carrot tops, onion peelings, and celery stalks can be added to soups and sauces to give flavor.

If you need only 1/2 an onion, save the root half. It will last longer.

Roasts should be allowed to “rest” 10-15 minutes after being removed from the oven. This allows the juices to settle before carving.

Leave a thin layer of fat on steaks and roasts during cooking to preserve juiciness.

When boiling eggs, add a pinch of salt to keep the shells from cracking.


Foodie Friday: Salad Ideas

Good Day Foodies!! Hope you all had a marvelous week. It’s time for Foodie Friday’s. This week we will be taking a look at a few options for making a salad. This will not be the only post on salads but rather a start of a complete series of posts on different salad options. This series will run for the next few months.

Salads don’t just begin with lettuce, but pasta, spinach, fruit or even cheese. What types of items do you like in your salad? If I’m having a salad with lettuce, I’ll usually make a bed of spring mix and add some arugula and spinach, along with shredded carrots, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, golden raisins, pecans, cucumbers, and avocados. For a dressing sometimes I’ll drizzle honey mustard, ranch, strawberry vinaigrette or an Asian peanut dressing. It all depends on what my taste buds are craving.




Chicken Salad with Grapes & Pecans

Chicken Salad with Grapes Recipe
Photo Credit: Southern Living

1/2 cup of mayonnaise or ranch dressing
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 pounds skinned and boned chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
3 cups red and white seedless grapes, halved
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Combine all ingredients except pecans. Cover and store chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Add pecans when ready to serve.

Quick Chef Salad:

Shredded Cheese
Cherry Tomatoes
Ham
Romaine Lettuce

Mix together and add your favorite dressing

Apple Pecan Gorgonzola Salad

Apple, Pecan and Gorgonzola Side Salad recipe
Photo Credit: Kraft Foods

2 Granny Smith apples, sliced
2 Tbsp. toasted Chopped Pecans
2 Tbsp. Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
1/2 cup Italian Dressing Mix, prepared with balsamic vinegar
Arrange apples slice on a plate in a circle. Sprinkle with pecans and cheese. Drizzle dressing on top.
Other Quick Salad Ideas:
Tomato & Peaches: Mix wedges of tomatoes and peaches, add slivers of red onion, a few red-pepper flakes and cilantro. Dress with olive oil and lime or lemon juice.
Carrots & Blueberries:  Grate carrots, toast some sunflower seeds, and toss with blueberries, olive oil, lemon juice and plenty of black pepper. Sweet, sour, crunchy, soft.
Red Salad: Combine tomato wedges with halved strawberries, basil leaves, shaved Parmesan and balsamic vinegar.
5-Bean Salad:  Chickpeas, cannelloni or other white beans, kidney or other red beans, steamed string beans and steamed yellow wax beans. Toss with vinaigrette, chopped scallions or red onion, and parsley.
Warm Potato Salad: Boil bite-size red potatoes. While still warm, dress them with olive oil, lemon juice, whole grain mustard, capers and parsley. Chopped shallots, bell peppers, etc.
Watermelon & Feta:  combine with roughly chopped mint, crumbled feta, sliced red onion and chopped Kalamata olives. Dress lightly with olive oil and lemon juice.You may need to add salt.
 
Walnut & Blue Cheese: Toss mixed greens with walnuts, blue cheese and raspberries; drizzle with a simple vinaigrette.
Smoked Salmon & Avocado:  Mix watercress with chopped smoked salmon, avocado, red onion and capers. Make a vinaigrette with olive oil, sherry vinegar and mustard powder.
Little Italy:  Chop or julienne salami and prosciutto, then toss with cubed mozzarella, chopped tomato, pepperoncini, oil and wine vinegar.
Thai & Sesame Noodles:  Combine about a half-cup peanut butter with a tablespoon soy sauce and enough coconut milk to make the mixture creamy (about a half cup), along with garlic and chili flakes in a blender or food processor. Toss sauce with cooked and cooled noodles, a load of mint, Thai basil, and/or cilantro, and lime juice. Shredded cucumber and carrots optional.
Hope you enjoy these salads, as always feel free to comment on our blog, send us an email, a tweet or comment on our Facebook Page.

 


Taste Test Tuesday: Dried Tomato and Garlic Pesto

Tastefully Simple has some really great products that you can use at any time. The versatility of each of the items makes cooking a simple yet fun and creative experience.

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Dried Tomato & Garlic Pesto seasoning is one item from their Standard line that is available year round. This is great if you want to make your own pesto, season your pasta sauce or even just your everyday meats and veggies.

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We’ve tried this product on numerous occasions, it’s a staple in our house. Boil some pasta, add some Dried Tomato, and Garlic Pesto seasoning, grated parmesan, and if you want some spinach, chicken or shrimp and you have a meal.

Dinner doesn’t have to take hours to complete. Simple yet tasty dishes can go a long way. Tastefully Simple offers you many options for meals, appetizers, desserts and snacks. Feel free to check out the website and we are always here to offer support and answer questions.

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Taste Test Tuesday: Todd’s Dirt

Hey everyone! Thanks for stopping by the kitchen today. As you can tell we had a blast at Metro Cooking DC this year. We learned a lot, saw a lot and met some really great vendors who we will continue to tell you about as we review their products. This is another vendor we met at Metro Cooking DC and we are addicted to their products.

Todd’s Dirt

 

After years of trying to recreate a seasoning blend that was made by a family friend, Todd was able to create something even better. Why is it called dirt? Well if you look at the bottle it resembles grass and dirt that you would find in your backyard. That’s just how big and noticeable the seasoning is. There is no MSG and it’s gluten-free. We had the opportunity to taste the dirt as a dip and on chicken. One bite and we knew this was a hit. Todd’s Dirt comes in three different blends:

Original: A mild savory seasoning made with 14 spices including, Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Kosher Salt, Pepper, Onion, Rosemary, Sage, Cilantro and other spices. Great on meats, vegetables, potatoes, and pasta. It even comes in a no-sodium blend called Low Down Dirt.

Bayou: This Creole/Cajun style seasoning has a very bold flavor made with 16 spices including, kosher salt, chipotle powder, sage, thyme, rosemary, chili powder and many more. If you are looking to spice things up a bit then this is your choice.

Crabby: A gourmet seafood seasoning blend made with 20 spices including, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, sage, onion, oregano, basil, ginger, cloves, white and black pepper, and many other spices. It’s Todd’s version of Chesapeake Bay seasoning. This seasoning was awarded the 2011 Silver Sofi award in the Flavor Enhancing category by the National Association of Specialty Food, which is the highest honor you can receive in the specialty food industry.

All of these spices were fantastic. You can use these seasonings to make dip with some sour cream. Crabby Dirt and some sour cream will kick up your shrimp cocktail dish. Sprinkle some of Todd’s dirt on some fresh popped popcorn, you’ll love it!

You can get them online at Todd’s Dirt or from some local grocery stores like Giant, Ingles Market, Whole Foods, and Central Market. Don’t see your local store on the list? Check the website to see if a store near you carries it, if not just order from the website. Hint: It is a great $5.00 investment!! They also have t-shirts, cookbooks, and gift packs if you are looking for a gift for the foodies in your life.

We hope you enjoyed today’s post. Thanks for spending time with us today. Feel free to leave a comments on the blog and let us know what you think.


Taste Test Tuesday: Harry & David Signature Relishes

Good day everyone, we were blessed with another Tuesday. We hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend. A few weeks ago we were out at Mac Arthur Square Mall in downtown Norfolk and happened to pass by Harry and David, and decided that we wanted something festive to kick off a series of ideas for holiday cooking. Thanks to Heather and Star we enjoyed our visit and got three amazing relishes to try.

Upon entering the store we were immediately recommended to try the Pepper and Onion Relish. It’s a bestseller of theirs, and after a small sample we could immediately see why. It has a sweet and savory flavor to it with a little bit of tangyness to it. We tried three flavors (there are 4) of this Signature Pepper and Onion relish and enjoyed every last drop. Each jar is $5.95, you can’t beat that.

  • Pepper and Onion Relish – Hot and Smoky
  • Pepper and Onion Relish with Zinfandel (Yes, wine!)
  • Pepper and Onion Relish – Classic Recipe
  • Pepper and Onion Relish Sweet Recipe
There are so many ways to use each of these relishes, we will share with you just a few ways that we used them.
  • Pour them over cream cheese cheese and eat with veggies, crackers or crostini bread
  • POR with Zinfadel is amazing with angel hair pasta and shrimp, scallops or even mussels.
  • Use as a dip (add a little honey) for pot stickers, egg rolls, crab rangoons
  • Mix it in with ground hamburger, turkey or chicken for patties.
  • Give your crab cakes and salmon patties a kick
  • Baste your spare ribs, chicken, pot roast or fish
We are already starting to think of other ways to use this relish, we know it will be paired with something for our Thanksgiving appetizers. These relishes also make good gifts. You can pair them with crackers, a bottle of wine or create a gift basket of your own.
We greatly appreciate all the help we received at the MacArthur Square Mall. Heather and Star, we will be back!!