Thank you everyone for the overwhelming positive responses I’ve gotten so far regarding the blog. I hope you all enjoy it and much as I am writing and working on it. This week’s post is all about stocking up the pantry. Living in a one-bedroom apartment doesn’t afford me much space to store items, so I’ve had to learn what I actually NEEDED to have on hand in order to throw something together. It is mostly about having the “go-to” items at the ready so when you go to fix a meal or try a recipe, you have everything on hand. Some important items that I always keep on hand are:

  • Olive oil (I keep a spare bottle in the pantry because you always manage to run out at the worst possible time)
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Pasta
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Chicken and vegetable broth (stock)
  • Honey
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Cannellini beans (trust me – they can take the place of meat in soups)
  • Brown rice (or other grain such as quinoa)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Pesto – makes for an easy sauce

With that being said, many people often have lots of cans of vegetables, fruit, etc. However, I prefer to get those frozen over canned so I typically do have some frozen vegetables in the freezer (again, which is limited on space). As I was going through Back to Basics I noticed that Ina had included recipes for chicken stock and pesto. Now – I typically buy chicken stock because I think it is perfectly good out of a box or can especially if you get the reduced sodium variety. However, Ina ensures readers that homemade chicken stock is better. We’ll see…

B2B #2: Homemade Chicken Stock:

This recipe is perfect for a lazy Sunday morning since it has to simmer for a few hours. Buy all your ingredients the day before and then make it the next morning while you do house chores or watch some TV. For her recipe, you would need a HUGE stockpot like one that you’d have to order off the internet because stores don’t typically carry that size. So, I cut it down. Also, I used chicken leg quarters which are basically the thighs and legs connected with the skin on. I got a little over 5 lbs of it for like $3 and some change. It’s cheap, has lots of flavor, and it fits into a regular (about 8 quart) pot. I also swapped out the celery because I don’t think it adds anything to the stock and added some bay leaves instead. I also left out the salt because I want to be able to control the salt in my future recipes. My yield was 3 quarts, and about 3 cups. I broke one quart down into 2 16 ounce containers just because some recipes only call for a cup or so of stock. The larger ones I’ll use for soup.

Ingredients

5 pounds of chicken leg quarters (skin on)

1 large Spanish yellow onion, unpeeled, cut in half

2 carrots, unpeeled, cut into chunks

1 parsnip, unpeeled and cut in half

Handful of each: fresh parsley sprigs, dill sprigs, and thyme sprigs

2 dried bay leaves

1 head of garlic cut in half

1 teaspoon of whole peppercorns

Place all ingredients into an 8-quart stockpot. Add 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 to 2.5 hours. Add extra water as necessary throughout the cooking process to keep ingredients mostly submerged (about an extra quart). Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and discard the solids. Pack the stock into containers of your choosing and refrigerate. When the stock is cold, remove the fat solids from the top of each container and freeze.

Adapted from Back to Basics (pg. 61) courtesy Ina Garten

 

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