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Pantry List 101

10 Jul

Okay kids!

If you are going to be following any of the recipes that I post in this website, you have got to have a proper pantry. It is imperative that you keep certain things handy so that you can readily prepare any and all of the dishes I will present to you. In the last couple of days, I’ve have compiled a working list of the essentials. This list isn’t exclusive; that is, if you have things that you like to cook with that I haven’t included, by all means have them. I didn’t include certain items like tuna, canned string beans and the like, I assumed one would already have these things in there. But, if you like chilies in adobo, or chipotle hot sauce, then have at it.

Pantry List : The Basics


Canola Oil
Olive oil 100%
Vegetable spray

These oils are good for all around cooking. Olive oil has a low smoke point, just get regular olive oil. Extra Virgin Olive oil isn’t necessary for our purposes here. Canola oil is best for all other purposes; it has a high smoke point, and is a good all purpose oil.


Regular salt
Sea salt/Kosher salt
Black Pepper
Coarse Black Pepper
white Pepper
Italian seasonings
dried basil
dried oregano
dried thyme
Bay leaves
Onion powder
garlic powder
dried parsley
dried tarragon
dried rosemary
cayenne pepper
red pepper flakes
chili powder

Pasta/ Rice/ Beans

Ribbon pasta ( ex. spaghetti, angel hair, ect,)
tubular pasta (ex. penne rigate, ziti, macaroni)
Flat pasta (ex. fettucine, linguine)

Different pastas lend themselves to different utilizations. For example, tubular pastas are great for baking, ribbon pastas are good for light to medium bodied sauces (marinara, white clam), and flat pastas can take more substantial sauces (meat, red clam, meatballs). A  good rule of thumb is: the thinner/ smaller the pasta, the lighter the sauce, and the thicker/larger or ribbed the pasta, the heavier the sauce.

egg noodles
canned or dried beans of your choice (canned beans are good for a quick addition to soups)
Arborio or short-grained rice
Rice of your choice
( i keep a jasmine rice and brown rice on hand)


1  can Veg-All
1 ea.Tomato paste in a tube (keeps longer)
1 can tomato puree
1 can diced tomatoes in Juice
2 cans Whole tomatoes w/ seasonings  in juice ( Suns of Italy)
1 jar whole roasted peppers
1 jar artichokes hearts


Unsalted top saltines
unseasoned bread crumbs
parmesan cheese
fresh flour
baking powder
baking soda
red wine vinegar
white wine vinegar
balsamic vinegar
dijon/brown mustard
canned beef stock*
canned chicken stock*
canned vegetable stock*
( Or, you can make your own)
evaporated milk
Dry brown gravy mix ( for bootleg demi-glace)
1 bottle each (optional)*
red and white wine
*a lot of my recipes require alcohol. Now, it is a small amount, and is necessary for dishes like Chicken Marsala and Coq Au Vin; otherwise, it is a moot point to prepare these dishes without it. If you are squeamish about cooking with alcohol; cut the amount, but you must use it to get optimum flavor.

Now with these basic ingredients, you will be able to whip out any of my recipes anytime. In the upcoming weeks, I will have recipes for some basic spice blends that you can make that are lower in salt that commercial blends, a 20-minute marinara,  some soups, homemade dressings, even some meatless options for all you vegetarians out there.

This blog will also go through some changes as I decide the direction i want to go in. I will keep the commentary on all things food along with recipes and anything else that is food related.  I would love some feedback on what you all think, as any suggestions on improvements.

Shalom, Y’all


20-minute Marinara sauce & Baked Chicken Parmesan

10 Jul

This will result in a all-purpose sauce that is light enough to toss with angel hair, and still substantial enough to be used in a lasagne recipe, or in Baked Chicken Parmesan ( recipe follows). Once on the stove, cooking time is 20 minutes.

20-minute Marinara

2-28 oz.cans of whole plum tomatoes in juice
2-each medium onions, diced finely
2 TBL. ( generous) chopped garlic
1 cup white wine ( or vegetable stock)
1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced thinly
1/2 tbl. dried thyme
1 TBl sea/kosher salt
1/2 TBL. cracked/coarse ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Empty cans of tomatoes into a large bowl, and crush by hand until chunky. Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add onions and saute until clear; about four minutes. Add garlic to onions, and cook for one minute. Empty tomatoes into pan, stir, add wine and turn up heat to high. Stir occasionally and bring to a boil, about seven minutes. Turn down heat, add dried seasonings, salt and pepper. Cook for eight minutes. Add fresh basil, stir and remove from heat. Toss sauce with cooked pasta of your choice, or continue with recipe below.

Baked Chicken Parmesan

Serves four

4 ea. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp. sea/kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 Tbl. dried basil
1 1/2 Tbl.. dried oregano
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2 cups grated three-cheese pizza blend cheese (sargento)
2 cups hot, 20-minute marinara
Vegetable spray

Place chicken breasts ( one at a time) between a large ziplock plastic bag, and with a rolling pan, flatten each breast with a rolling pin until flattened and an even thickness; about 1/4 inch thickness. Place breasts on plate and refrigerate.

Clean all surfaces before continuing

Combine breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan and  seasonings in a shallow pan ( pie tin), Set aside.
Measure out dijon mustard and put in separate container. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pull out chicken from refrigerator. With a small brush,  lightly brush both sides of the chicken with the dijon mustard. The trick is to get the breadcrumbs to adhere to the chicken. Place one breast in the breadcrumb mixture, pat gently and turn over until the breasts are evenly coated, shaking off excess crumbs. Repeat with each breast and refrigerate for 10 minutes.  Discard leftover crumbs. Spray a large sheet pan with vegetable spray and place breasts on sheet pan. Bake in hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove breasts from oven, turn each breast over, and top each breast with 1/2 cup marinara sauce. Then, top each breast with a generous amount of the grated pizza cheese. Return chicken to oven. reduce heat to 375 degrees, and bake for 10-12 minutes more or until done. Serve over pasta, or for a lower carb option, serve with vegetable of your choice.

Risotto with Shrimp, Spinach and Mushrooms

10 Jul

Risotto is one of Italy’s most famous dishes. It is typically made with arborio rice, a short grained white rice that contains a high starch content. It is the starch that gives this dish its super creamy texture, and can be eaten as a main dish, or as a side for roasts and grilled meats. Now, here is the fun part; Once you learn how to make this, the ingredients can be switched and altered as long as you observe the 3-to-1 ratio of rice to liquid.

To make this dish vegetarian, omit the shrimp and use vegetable broth.

You will need:
Wooden spoon
regular sauce pan
Heavy-bottomed skillet ( 4 quart at the minimum, 6 quart maximum)
Liquid measuring cup
measuring spoon
cutting board

risotto with shrimp, spinach, and, mushrooms ( serves 2-4 people)

1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, heated to simmer
1 cup chopped onions
1Tbl. chopped garlic
1 pint button, shiitake, or cremini (baby bella), cleaned and sliced
1 small package frozen spinach, thawed and drained of all liquid
1/2 to 3/4 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, cold
1/2 cup top quality grated fresh parmesan ( no canned cheese here, please)
Salt and black pepper to taste

Read recipe thoroughly, the prepare all ingredients before proceeding with recipe.

Heat skillet and add 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add onions and cook over medium heat for five minutes or until clear.
Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add mushrooms, and cook until soft. Add drained spinach and cook until dry, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Clean skillet and return to stove. Add the remaining olive oil, and saute shrimp for 3-4 minutes or until pink. Set aside shrimp. Do not drain oil from pan. Add rice, and saute rice for about five minutes until rice turns clear. Do not brown. Add one ladle of hot broth to rice, and stir until all liquid is absorbed. Add another ladle of hot broth to rice and stir rice again until broth is absorbed. Repeat, adding broth to rice and stirring until absorbed until all of the broth is used. Reduce heat to low, and add shrimp and spinach mixture to rice and stir until heated. Add butter and stir until melted. Pull risotto off the heat and fold in the cheese. Serves 2-4 people.

Turkey sausage

10 Jul

Here is a recipe for turkey sausage that can be used as a breakfast patty,

or in all kinds of recipes where sausage is needed (lasagne, stuffing. ect.)

*always clean surfaces, utensils and hands before and after handling ground meat*

Turkey Sausage (makes 1 1/2 lbs)

1 lb.  regular ground turkey or chicken ( do NOT use extra-lean or breast meat)
1 Tbl. grated onion
1 Tbl olive oil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 Tbl dried parsley
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup grated apple ( optional, see note following recipe)

Mix all ingredients together and let sit for a least an hour before using.
To use as breakfast sausage, shape into patties. Fry in pan with a bit of oil. Cook over medium heat until brown on one side and turn only once. Do not press patties with spatula, or poke with knife to test doneness or sausage will become dry. Press with finger. If firm, sausage is done. Don’t cook longer than five minutes total time, or it will be dry.

To use in other recipes, don’t shape into patties. Cook in pan with a bit of oil until halfway done, remove from pan and chill before adding it to your recipe in place of cooked pork sausage.

Note- for Sweet Turkey Apple sausage, omit pepper flakes and add 1/4 cup peeled  and grated golden delicious, red delicious or any other sweet apple.

Try the sausage for breakfast this weekend

Warm Crab Dip

10 Jul
1 1/2 lb cream cheese, softened
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Old Bay ( or to taste)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbl dried parsley
1 lb.  fresh or pasteurized backfin crabmeat ( cleaned)
Sourdough Boule ( round loaf of unsliced bread)

Soften cream cheese an hour @ room temperature.
Add  sour cream,spices, lemon juice, and Worcestershire;
Mix well.  Taste to adjust seasonings. Fold in picked
crabmeat and chill for an hour.

To serve:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice off top 1/3 of bread loaf and reserve.
With a knife, slice into the top
of the bread 3/4 of the way in two or three spots.
With your hand, pull out
chunks of bread out of the loaf until you have a cavity
the size of your fist.  Toast bread bowl
in oven along with lid and toast for 10 minutes,
or until brown. Remove from oven.

Place 2 cups of crab dip in glass or microwave dish.
On high heat, microwave for three minutes.
Pull out and stir. Microwave for another
two minutes or until hot. Carefully, pull out dip from
microwave oven using an oven mitt. Empty dip int toasted
bread bowl. Enjoy!