One thing I forgot to include when I wrote about pantry items over the past couple weeks, is bigger is not always better! Yes, most pantry items have a very long shelf life, but the prevailing American attitude that if a little is good, more would be better is not wise in this instance.

Sometimes bigger is better, but not always

Sometimes bigger is better, but not always

First of all, a very little goes a long way in recipes. Even though the smaller jar of dried Rosemary doesn’t look like much, it probably is enough. Remember, spices and herbs lose potency over time, so you are better off to buy the small jars, and repurchase when you run out. Trying to save a few pennies buying the gigantic jar that will take you so long to use, you end up tossing most of it away (renders your bargain purchase “penny wise, but dollar stupid”).

Depending on the size of your household, the same is true for oils and sauces – they can eventually go rancid. If you do not cook often, or you’re only cooking for one, be sure to buy the smaller size bottles, and remember that some of those items should be refrigerated after opening – the labels will let you know.

Buy canned goods in bulk

On the other hand, if you have a full house, you may well save some money buying in bulk with canned and boxed goods. For example, it’s amazing how fast I fly through diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Think about the ingredients you use most regularly and feel free to stock up on those. Just as with cooking the Personal Chef Approach  way, you will save both time and money.

Stocking your fridge and freezer

Stocking your fridge and freezer

Last, I wanted to leave you with the list of things I usually keep stocked in my fridge and freezer, so your kitchen is ready for anything. Whether you use the weekly menu plan I write for you, or the the menu planning tool for your own household specific menu, both come with automatic grocery lists. Just check the items you already have stocked at home off your list, and pick up only what you need. Your previous pantry investment will begin to pay off as your shopping trips are lighter and quicker.

Here is my list of what I usually keep stocked in my fridge and freezer, so I can snack, bake, or throw breakfast, lunch, or dinner together that can help stretch the time between PCA cook dates:

Double recipes and keep spice rubs on hand for quick dinners

Double recipes and keep spice rubs on hand for quick dinners

Refrigerated Items

Unsalted butter
Large eggs
Milk
Various cheeses – cream cheese, shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan
Bacon and sometimes Pancetta and/or Prosciutto
Sandwich meats – ham, sliced turkey
Celery, carrots, and at least a couple green vegetables
Fresh ginger
Fresh fruit – apples, grapes, melon (or whatever is in season)
Salad greens
Wet rubs I’ve made
Jam

Frozen Goods

Frozen berries for smoothies
Peas and spinach
Tofu
Ground turkey
Chicken breasts
Steaks, sometimes pork and lamb chops
Any leftover broth, homemade sauces, or marinades I want to use again

Other Dry Goods

Bread
Garlic
Onions
White or sweet potatoes
Remember, I already have pasta, and various grains stocked in my pantry as well

TIP: As I make spice rubs on PCA cook dates, I usually double the ingredients, then package and label the extra in airtight containers (especially now we are coming up on grill season). The dry ones are stored with my other spices in the pantry, or the wet ones are stored in the fridge. Then I can defrost a chicken breast or steak in the fridge before I go to work in the morning, and grill off a quick weeknight dinner with minimal effort and cleanup when I return home. This is one of my favorite rubs I like to keep on hand in my refrigerator, because it works so well with just about any type of protein.

Roasted Garlic & Chili Grilled Chicken Breast.

Roasted Garlic & Chili Rubbed Chicken Breasts

A mouthwatering blend of aromatic flavors that easily transform a boring old chicken breast into an exciting dinner!  I sometimes find garlic already roasted at the store, which does save time, but it is very simple to do – just check out my note below. Any extra can be saved and used up to 5 days covered and refrigerated, but in my household it goes quickly.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

Roasted Garlic & Chili Grilled Chicken

  • 1 whole head garlic roasted (see note below),
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts on or off the bone

Directions

Roasted Garlic & Chili Grilled Chicken

  1. Prepare a hot grill on one side, and medium temperature on the other.
  2. Rub the seasoning mix generously into both sides of the breasts.
  3. Sear the breasts over the hot grill about 2 minutes per side to seal in the juices and get some color started, then move the the medium heat side to finish cooking, and additional 10 -12 minutes per side or until internal temperature has reached 165° F. Let rest 5-10 minutes, tented with foil to keep warm, before serving.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with chipotle cauliflower mash or mashed potatoes, Tex Mex zucchini hash, or simple grilled vegetables.

Heat To Eat

I like to rub my meat, poultry or seafood and store until I am ready to grill and eat; but for someone recovering from illness or surgery you should cook it off for them and leave instructions to heat in the microwave on 50% power (to heat without cooking further), for 3-5 minutes, turning midway to distribute heat evenly.

Variations

This versatile rub is an outstanding on of beef, pork or shrimp too.

Notes

To roast the garlic: Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut a 4-inch square piece of foil and place on a sheet pan. Peel the papery outer layer of a head of garlic off, leaving the skins on. Cut 1/2-inch off of the top of the head of garlic. Place the larger piece of garlic on the square of foil on a sheet pan (save the rest for another use). Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top coating well. Wrap the foil loosely around the head of garlic and roast in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and squishy when you squeeze it. Store any excess garlic in an airtight container coating the garlic in olive oil for up to one week.

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