Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cooking Essentials

Hello hello!

I hope all is well with everyone!  I have a lot of good things to share today and I hope my long post won't scare people away.  But I promise you, it'll be worth it to go through! 

Good thing #1:  Cooking Essentials

A friend of a friend suggested I do a post about basic cooking essentials, which I thought was brilliant!  He's a bachelor living a solo life out in DC and wants to learn how to cook, but gets intimidated by recipes because of the supplies and ingredients needed.  Like anything in life, you gotta learn the basics in order to build on a skill, so I sincerely hope the following helps anyone who is lost in the kitchen and wants to learn the basics of cooking.
 Essential kitchen items:
  • Set of measuring cups and measuring spoons
Most, if not all, recipes include measurements.  A drinking cup or spoon does not give accurate measurements, which is very important when baking.  Not so much when cooking, but most people look frightened when I say I don't measure and cook with a "feeling," so now I try my best to use measurements when sending out a recipe to a friend or into the internet world.

  • Non-stick skillet
A good quality skillet, in my opinion, is a necessity in the kitchen!  You can do so much with just one pan.  Literally, an entire meal can be made in a skillet.  Buy a good quality, non-stick pan that is medium to large in size, has a good, sturdy handle, and has a little depth for sauces and pastas.

  • Set of accessories (wooden spoon, spatula, serving spoon, whisk)
These are your accessories that will make life easier for you in the kitchen.  You need to be able to stir, flip, and serve whatever you cook without damaging your pots and pans.

  • Sharp, solid knife
You will use this knife ALL THE TIME.  So invest in an awesome one that will allow you to chop up vegetables and cut meats.  Not at the same time I hope...hygiene 101.

  • Good-sized medium-large pot and 1 small pot
How else will you boil potatoes, pasta, or eggs?

  • Set of glass baking pans
 You can bake, roast, and serve in these.

  • Large mixing bowl
You know, to mix things in.

  • Pantry and refrigerator essentials
Basic spices such as sea salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and italian seasoning.  Other essentials include flour, sugar, butter, assorted fresh vegetables and fruits, onions, garlic, baking soda, baking powder, pasta, milk, peanut butter, olive oil, rice, vanilla extract...just to name a few.  Take a big visit to the grocery store and before you know it you'll have a stocked up kitchen!

Good Thing #2:  Green Smoothie Delicious-ness

Please don't run away, I assure you this is so good and so good for you!  Win, win.  I used to shy away from any healthy green smoothies because of the incorporation of spinach and it being green, but lately I have been having hair issues. If you don't already know, I am very vain when it comes to my hair and I have learned that spinach is very good for hair, nails, and skin.  So why not give spinach a chance in my smoothie?  If it means better hair, I will try it!

Although this smoothie is full of spinach, I promise you do not taste it!  It's the other goodies that go into this smoothie that make it taste more like a sweet shake.  This smoothie is great after a workout, which is usually when I have it since it also counts as my breakfast.

Green Smoothie:

3 cups baby spinach
1 frozen banana (cut-up before freezing)
1/2 cup of greek 0% yogurt (I prefer vanilla or honey vanilla in mine)
1 tbs natural peanut butter (I have used the natural peanut butter with honey, and it's even better)
1 cup milk (almond, soy, low fat, skim, whatever you like)

Throw all this into the blender (I love my magic bullet), and blend until completely smooth.  Enjoy!

Good Thing #3:  Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Mashed Red Potatoes

This recipe is considered Luby's night in my house because pot roast is my husband's favorite meal there (my husband and I are old souls, don't judge). This meal is great because the roast slow cooks all day, while you are out doing the whole work or staying busy thing.

Pot Roast:

2 lb roast, frozen or thawed (I used frozen this time)
3 cups beef broth
3 peeled carrots cut in large chunks
1 large onion cut into quarter chunks
2 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs sea salt
1 tbs ground black pepper

Place all ingredients into the slow cooker and let it cook on low for about 10 hours (frozen)/ 8 hours (thawed) until tender and then place on warm while making your sides.

Mashed Red Potatoes:

5-7 red potatoes, cut in half
1 cup warm milk
3 tbs butter

Boil potatoes in a large pot of water over high heat until tender.  Drain and put potatoes back into the hot pot.  Smash them with a fork or smashing gadget.  Add half of the milk and mash some more.  Add the butter and smash more.  If you like your potatoes creamier, add more milk.  I ended up using my whole cup of milk.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


1 cup pot roast juices
1 tbs flour
2 tbs butter

Melt butter in a sauce pan, add flour and whisk until brown-ish in color.  Slowly pour in the pot roast liquid and whisk, whisk, whisk to get rid of any clumps. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer until desired thickness.

Enjoy this comforting dinner!