Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kitchen Essentials

The following items are essential to any cook’s kitchen, especially a healthy cook! They are broken into 2 sections: Tools and Food & Pantry Items. The Food & Pantry Items are broken down even further into “must haves” and “additional items." The “must haves” are items that should ALWAYS be in your kitchen. The “additional items" can be prioritized based on what you plan to make and when you plan to make it because produce and dairy can spoil. Therefore, you may not want to purchase the “additional” items unless you know they are going to be used. However, they are listed here because they are always nice to have on hand.

Also, when shopping for these tools and ingredients, don’t be cheap! Keep in mind that these are the items you will use the most in the kitchen and the cheap versions lack quality. Therefore, when it comes to these essentials, spend a little extra so that you have the best tools and ingredients to cook the best food!


  • 1 Good Quality Knife (Chef or Santoku)
  • 2 Large Cutting Boards (At least 1 plastic for raw meats & seafood)
  • 1 Non-Stick Frying Pan
  • 1 Large Pot
  • 2 Medium Pots
  • 1 Non-Stick Grill Pan
  • 1 Baking Pan/Cookie Sheet
  • 1 Baking Dish (Glass or Aluminum)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Saran Wrap
  • 1 Pair of Tongs
  • 2 Spatulas
  • 1 Wisk
  • 2-3 Large Spoons
  • 1 Ladle
  • 1 Colander
  • 1 Micro Plane
  • 1 Hand Held Juicer
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Food Storage Containers (Ziploc work great!)


Must Haves:

  • Salt (Kosher/Sea)
  • Pepper Grinder w/ Black Peppercorns
  • Course Black Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Dried Thyme
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • Chili Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Bay Leaves
  • Olive Oil (buy in bulk to save $)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Vinegar (pick your favorite: Red or White Wine, Balsamic, Apple Cider)
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • Success or Minute Rice (White and Brown)
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Lemons
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Eggs
Additional Items:

  • Carrots
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Bag of Fresh Spinach
  • Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Fresh Fruit (your favorite kind)
  • Frozen Peas
  • Frozen Corn
  • Frozen Fruit (your favorite kind)
  • Non-Fat or Low-Fat Vanilla Yogurt
  • Jarred Marinara Sauce
  • Box of Favorite Pasta (Regular & Whole Wheat)
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Honey
  • Hot Sauce

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Salmon 2 Ways

I have been trying to eat healthier lately and in doing so, I have been cooking Salmon about once a week. I love salmon because it is quick and easy to prepare, making it a perfect weeknight dinner!

Below you will find the ingredients and directions for making Salmon 2 ways: Baked in a Foil Packet and Grilled w/ a Greek Yogurt Sauce. Both cooking methods are healthy, easy, and delicious! As for side dishes, you can see in the picture above that I sauteed spinach and made brown rice to go with the grilled salmon, but when I baked it, I had Trader Joes Minted Peas on the side (see picture to the right). The peas were so good that I am trying to figure out how to make them myself!

Anyway, I hope this will inspire you! Happy Cooking!

Salmon Baked in a Foil Packet

Ingredients (4 servings):
1.5 lb Salmon Fillet (Cut into 4 pieces-ask them to cut it at the seafood counter)
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons Rosemary (finely chopped)
1 Lemon
1/4 cup White Wine (Dry Varieties-like a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc-work best but any will do)
Handful of Capers (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place 2 large pieces of foil (overlapping halfway) on a baking pan and lay the salmon fillets on top of the foil. Then, brush the salmon with the olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Next, chop the rosemary and sprinkle on top of the salmon as well. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice of half of the lemon (no seeds) over the fillets and then cut the other half into slices and place on top of the fish (I do 1 slice on each piece, but you could add more). Then, pour the white wine over the salmon and if you like capers, sprinkle some on top. Now there is no science to closing the foil packet, just fold the foil in on all sides and fold again to make sure that no air gets in or out.

Lastly, put the fish in the oven and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and open the foil (there will be alot of steam and the juices should be bubbling!). Once most of the steam has been released, plate and serve!

Grilled Salmon w/ a Greek Yogurt Sauce

This salmon is so simple and tasty that it could be enjoyed plain. However, I had Greek Yogurt Sauce leftover from another recipe and it complemented the salmon perfectly.

1.5 lb Salmon Fillet (Cut into 4 pieces-ask them to cut it at the seafood counter)
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt Sauce (see recipe below)

Directions: Preheat stove top grill pan to high. While it's heating up, prepare the salmon by simply brushing the fillets with olive oil, sprinkling generously with salt and pepper and the dried oregano. When the grill pan starts to smoke, use tongs to place your fillets on the pan skin side down. Allow to grill for 6 minutes on the skin side, then flip the fillets over and grill for another 6 minutes (if you are looking for pretty grill marks like the ones pictured, DO NOT move the fillets while they are grilling) Next remove fillets from the pan onto a plate and allow them to rest under a tin foil tent for another 5 minutes. Serve each fillet with 2 tablespoons of the Greek Yogurt Sauce.

Greek Yogurt Sauce

1 cup Greek Yogurt (low-fat or non-fat)
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
1 garlic clove
Juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Hot Sauce (optional)

In a small bowl, add the yogurt, chopped mint, and lemon juice. Using a Microplane, grate in one clove of garlic and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a few drops of hot sauce if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Tip: The longer this sits, the better it is, so feel free to make it up to a day in advanced.