Best Essentials to Always Stock In Your Pantry

According to Mr. Chi City, keeping your refrigerator stocked will get you many women. Well according to me, keeping your pantry stocked will keep you from starving on nights when you are lazy, tired, or too darn cheap to go buy something.

If you constantly travel for work, pleasure, or are just busy, keeping your pantry stocked might just save you from eating whatever that chicken looking thing covered in mold in your fridge might be, even if you are pretty sure that it has only been there for five-ish days. Here are the recommended items you can always have available for sustenance in a flash. Many of the things listed last weeks, even months and are pretty darn easy to work with.

Essentials

Olive oil, coconut oil, ghee (clarified butter)

Unless you are cooking meat, which can cook in its own fat, you should always put at least a tablespoon of oil into the pan before cooking anything (unless a recipe or technique specifically says otherwise). Ghee is my favorite because unlike butter, it never burns.

Flour

A rue is a typical base for most sauces and is equal parts water, flour, and butter. Flour is also required for almost every baking recipe and is also integral to frying. Fun fact: flour can also be thrown on a popcorn fire (when a bag of popcorn lights up in your microwave) to extinguish it quickly without having to unplug any appliances. Keep sealed in an air tight ziplock bag.

Canned Goods

Canned Soup

What is easier than heating up a can of soup? Soup is delicious, easy, and cheap. A meal by itself, soup can also be used to add flavor to rice, grains, and meat. In an emergency scenario, also a lifesaver.

Beans

Chock full of protein, canned beans can be used to make chili, are a great addition to salads, can be served as a side dish, and can be stored in the pantry for years.

Chickpeas aka Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans can be used in salads or to make amazing hummus! Just add olive oil, tahini, lemon, paprika, and blend until smooth.

Or you can make “leblebi” a Turkish delicacy by roasting the chickpeas and covering them with seasoning. Corum, the city I lived in in Turkey is famous for leblebi and have hundreds of different flavors.

Seasonings and Sauce Ingredients

Soy Sauce

One of the most basic recipes or what I like to call an easy weeknight dinner is the stir-fry. You can literally take any vegetables and protein that you have, chop it up, and throw it all into a pan with some soy sauce for 15-20 minutes and BAM! You are done. Throw it on some rice, noodles, or just in a bowl by itself and you’ve got yourself a meal. Fun fact: soy sauce does not have to be refrigerated.

Pasta Sauce

Who doesn’t love spaghetti? Especially on a weeknight when you invite your friends over for dinner and realize you have nothing in the house to make. Boil the water, cook the pasta, add the sauce, PRESTO! Spaghetti alla Pantry for the whole group. Add some chopped onion and ground beef to the sauce and you’ve made Pasta Bolognese.

Onion and garlic

These two pantry staples are the key to every one of your meals being a success. They just make everything taste better. One of my favorite things to whip up is an omelet. I chop up an onion and throw it in a pan with some olive oil. I cook it until it is soft and translucent and I add in some sliced mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon, basically whatever I have available, throw in some eggs, and boom, I’ve got myself an omelet. You know what goes well with omelets?

Hot Sauce

Everything tastes better with hot sauce. My favorite is the chili garlic sauce that they sell in Asian markets. Sriracha, Tapatillo, and Chalula are some of my other favorites. Put hot sauce on your stir-fry and omelets to make them an unforgettable experience for guests. Just make sure you have water on hand in case they can’t take the heat.

But you know what they say: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”.

Fillers and Fibers

Grains

Whether you eat carbs or not, it is always a good idea to have some emergency grains and legumes in your house. Your options are limitless: white rice, brown rice, farrow, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa, bread, noodles, etc. These pantry staples are great for nights when you don’t have a plan, but don’t want to spend $12 on gross “cheap” Mexican food. Grains and legumes fill you up and soak up the yummy sauce from your stir-fry, win-win. If your bored with Italian style pasta, hit up your local Asian market and grab some authentic Asian noodles for a changeup.

Proteins

Canned meat or fish

A can of tuna has come to my rescue more than once. I’m sure you’ve been there. You get home after a long day of work and you are starving. You don’t want to cook, you want as little cleanup as possible and you want to eat something more than a piece of toast. Tuna is great because all you have to do is open the can, pour it into a bowl, add some mayonnaise and some onion if you are feeling fancy, and throw it in between two pieces of bread. Hell, I’ve been known to eat it with a fork, straight out of the bowl.

Nut Butters

The ingredient that can be added to anything! While some people elect to keep their nut butters in the fridge, there are a few brands that have no added sugar that you can leave in the pantry after opening. Nut butters can be cooked into sauce (peanut sauce), added to smoothies, or even eaten by the spoonful. Personally, I enjoy crunchy peanut butter mixed into my plain greek yogurt.

 

The Daily Twenties Guide to Kitchen Basics

Okay, so you need to get your kitchen together ASAP. Maybe you just signed a lease on your first ever apartment. Or maybe it just hit you that your roommate’s parents have been generously furnishing your kitchen this whole time…. and your roommate is moving out. Cool. We got you. This is The Daily Twenties’ list of the 25 most basic items you’ll need to cook for yourself and maybe a roommate or two… if you’re nice like that. Disclaimer— this list only covers the basics. If you’re the Mario Batali of undiscovered culinary talent, you might want to check out this next level kitchen essentials list. Otherwise, read on.

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Ben Henderson

 

1. A catch-all cookware set

A skillet, sauce pan, and large pot are all you should need to get started. It’s usually a better deal when you buy all those items as part of a set, though. Look for an 8-12 piece set somewhere like Amazon, Macy’s, or Costco— those three have the best sales on cookware.

2. Flatware

This one is a no-brainer. You need utensils to consume food (well, at least to consume food in a socially acceptable manner). Consider buying set with 20 pieces or so. You might be just one person, but you eat at least three times per day…. and, how often do you plan to wash your dishes? Thought so.

3. Dinnerware set

Buy more than you think you’ll need— between two and four bowls, plates, cups, mugs, etc. should set you up nicely. Also, it looks organized and impressive when your dishes match.

4. Oven mitts

Sh&%! will get hot when you cook it. That’s a fact. You’re going to need something to protect your hands when you grab baking dishes out of the oven and hot pans off the stove.

5. Tongs

Pretty much the most useful cooking utensil ever invented. Use these to rotate meat or veg on the grill or stovetop, toss salads, and sauté almost anything.

6. Spatula

You’ll use this with anything you throw in a pan to cook— meat, eggs, veg, you name it. Make sure to get a wooden or silicone spatula if you have nonstick pans (otherwise you’ll scratch the surface of your cookware).

7. Stirring spoon

Same idea as the spatula, but you’ll need this one specifically for sauces and soups.

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Janice Cullivan

 

8. Chef’s knife

One chef’s knife will set you up to chop, slice, and dice pretty much everything— fruit, veg, meat, fish, herbs— the list goes on and on.

9. Paring knife

Because slicing your finger open is a totally amateur move in the kitchen… you’ll want to use something smaller and easier to handle than a chef’s knife to cut things like cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and the like.

10. Mixing bowl

The title is pretty self explanatory. Use this for making dough, combining pasta with sauce, tossing salads, and anything else you need to mix.

11. Colander

If your pasta consumption habits are anything like mine, you’ll need this just for its pasta-draining capabilities. It’s also great for washing vegetables and rinsing legumes, like chickpeas and black beans.

12. Can opener

Have you ever been can opener-less when you needed to open a can? Yeah, it suddenly feels like you’re in the stone age— which is a ridiculous and easily avoidable scenario.

13. Bottle opener/corkscrew

Maybe you have a bottle opener on your keychain. It’s okay. I’m not judging. You’ll still want one of these to open wine bottles and give to your guests if they need to open their beer (unless you’d like to pass around your keys).

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Rubbermaid Products

 

14. Glassware set

Glassware is the most responsible, sophisticated way to store your leftovers. It’s microwave and dishwasher safe, doesn’t absorb any flavor or odor from your food, and makes you look like you generally have your life together. It’s more expensive than plastic up front, but it will last you way longer.

15. Cutting board

Bamboo is the choice move here. It lasts longer than other materials, doesn’t contain chemicals (like plastic often does), and won’t dull your knives.

16. Measuring cup

Even if you’re not a baker, you can’t really replicate any recipe without a measuring cup. Not even oatmeal. Get a glass one with a lip for pouring. That way, it’ll be useful for both liquid and dry ingredients.

17. Measuring spoons

If you like to go rogue in the kitchen and have never looked at a cookbook in your life, then this might not be a necessary item for you. Otherwise, these should come in handy when you need to precisely follow a recipe.

18. 8×8 baking dish

Contrary to the name, it’s not just for baked goods. You can use this for anything you want to bake in the oven— lasagne, enchiladas, roasted vegetables, chicken, fish, etc.

 

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Abigail

 

19. Baking sheet

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, this is different from the baking dish. You’ll need it to make cookies and anything you want to get crispy or flakey, like roast carrots or broiled fish.

20. Whisk

Trust me on this, whisks are superior to spoons for mixing eggs, brownie batter, salad dressings, and more.

21. Cheese grater

Any purchase in the name of cheese is a good investment. You can buy grated cheese from the store, but it will severely limit your selection and it usually costs more.

22. Ice cube tray

Unless you have a fancy freezer with a built-in ice machine…

23. Kitchen towels

Paper towels are great, but they’re not exactly friendly to the environment or good for your wallet. And let’s be honest— at some point in your at-home culinary career, you will spill something.

24. Natural cleaner

Don’t use Windex or Clorox to clean your counter. At some point, you or someone you love will make, drop, or place a sandwich on that counter— and you shouldn’t have to worry about traces of harsh chemicals in that scenario.

 

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Bnilsen

25. Dish soap

Get one for hand washing your dishes and another for running your dishwasher, if you have one. Do not make the mistake of using dish soap in your dishwasher… turning your kitchen into a bubble bath might be hilarious in concept, but is actually a pain in the a$$ to clean up (unfortunately, I would know).

 

10 Essentials to Take Your Kitchen from College to Adult

As my college graduation approached, I felt a glow of self-satisfaction from all of my accomplishments. Between giving up Sunday Funday as a weekly ritual and furnishing my apartment beyond its former Bob-Marley-poster-aesthetic, I was a grown up. Most crucial to my new adult persona— I could cook. One year of cable and an obsession with Food Network had given me that ability, and I was fully prepared demonstrate it. When my parents came up for my graduation, I would cook them a totally impressive, highly sophisticated dinner.

That was my vision, at least. I’ll tell you the reality: total chaos. First, my basil pesto leaked out of my roommate’s blender, making an oily mess on the counter. “It’s missing the rubber thingy,” she later informed me… thanks for that, Jamie. Then I burned myself removing chicken from the oven with salad fork (yep, no tongs). Finally, due to a lack of serveware, I had to present my beautiful creation… in plastic tupperware. Awesome.

Hell's Kitchen food fox cooking gordon ramsay

The above incident is why I want to share how I finally got my s$%! together in the kitchen. Below is a list of my “kitchen heroes,” tools I rely on multiple times per week or even daily. They not only prevent me from turning into a hot mess when I entertain, but improve my daily life too. If you’ve collected the basics (toaster oven, microwave, a few useful pans, etc.), but still feel like your kitchen does not reflect your shiny, new adultness… read on!

Chef’s knife

Don’t sprain your wrist trying to chop a carrot with your dull, $10 knife. Invest in a chef’s knife that’s properly weighted, super sharp, and made to last. It will make you not only more efficient, but also appear to have a set of badass knife skills. Although I’ve linked to my favorite, go to a kitchen supply store and try before you buy— the right knife is all about individual preference.

Utensil crock

No more digging for your spatula at the very moment your omelet needs flipping or running for your slotted spoon as your pasta overcooks. It will all be right there by your stove, and you will feel organized as f*&! every time you reach for a cooking utensil.

Our crock of kitchen utensils, with a very shiny ladle frontmost.

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/adwriter/

Electric kettle

If you’re really busy (lazy) like me, you’ll appreciate how quickly an electric kettle can boil water— way, way faster than your stove. Thanks to my kettle, I now enjoy a flawless cup of pour over coffee every morning. From making a quick Cup Noodles (because somehow that didn’t get old in college) to boiling an egg, the uses go on and on.

Baking dish set

An attractive set of baking dishes will allow you to take your food right from oven to table and still make a great presentation. I use mine to make chicken, fish, veggies, and occasionally lasagne. For the sugar addicts— they’re also great for brownies and cakes. Buy a set with lids, so you can easily store leftovers.

Pyrex glassware

Pyrex has fewer chemicals than plastic, lasts forever, and doesn’t absorb any of the color or flavor from your food. It’s also oven-safe, so you can cook, store, and reheat your food all in the same container. No extra dishes, no extra work, no gross stains from your leftovers— instant life upgrade.

Good blender

For some reason, a lot of blenders are total crap. I once killed an almost-new blender while making hummus. Hummus! No offense, blender, but you had one job to do. Although it’s a splurge, I recommend a Ninja or a Vitamix. Both are made with better materials and much stronger motors than other blenders. Blendtec is another solid blender. It literally blends anything, look!

Mini-Prep

A mini-prep is a smaller, pared-down food processor. I use mine to chop veggies, blend pesto, and make salad dressing, sauces, and marinades. It’s way less trouble to set up, clean, and store than a full-sized food processor.

Stovetop espresso maker

Serving espresso to your dinner guests after the meal? Instant adult cred. Also, if you’ve never heard of affogato… you’re welcome.

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Kitchen shears

You’re a busy adult now, so you don’t have time to wrestle with the plastic seal on the peanut butter jar or pluck the leaves off your parsley one by one. Kitchen shears will help you eliminate that kind of nonsense from your life.

Microplane

A microplane is basically a super-fine grater that you can use for cheese and citrus alike. Hear me out on this one— adding lemon zest to pasta, chicken, fish, salad dressing, etc. is a pretty next-level move for the home cook. Bonus: impress a date by making a quick pasta and grating fresh Parmesan onto it, Italian restaurant style.
Img4_KitchenEssentialsPhoto Credit: sweetbeetandgreenbean

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Last Minute Meal From Only Your Pantry

One of my favorite dishes to eat in Turkey was “Etli Nohut” or Meat and Chickpea Stew. This is a very easy recipe to make that tastes delicious. And, you can make the whole thing from items in your pantry! Although the traditional recipe calls for meat, I prefer to make it without. You can also make it vegetarian by swapping out the beef or chicken broth for veggie broth or water. This dish serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 dried red pepper/green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp red chili flakes (optional)

Instructions:

  • In a medium pot, sauté chopped onion in olive oil over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until translucent.
  • Then add in the peppers and tomato paste.
  • Stir. Add one cup of beef or chicken broth and the salt.
  • Simmer for five minutes.
  • Then add the chickpeas and simmer for 10 more minutes over a low heat.
  • Serve with rice.

Kuzu-Etli-Nohut-Tarifi

Photo Credit: resimlitarifleri.com

Quick and Simple Press Test to Know if Your Steak is Done

Cooking can be hard – from deciding what you want to make in the first place, to actually executing a recipe so it comes out the way you want it to – there are endless places for error.

Luckily, I inherited a really simple trick that enables you to test the “doneness” of your meat without having to cut it open. It’s called the “press test.”1st1.jpg

From here on out I will refer to the fatty-part-of-your-palm-at-the-bottom-of-your-thumb as your palm.

The press test works on all kinds of meat and it is incredibly easy.

You will need: two hands, a piece of meat, something to cook it on and some sort of cooking implement.

Once you’ve been cooking your meat for a few minutes and you feel as though you’re ready to test the doneness, bring your thumb and pointer finger together as though you’re making a loose “ok” symbol.

Then, press your palm and take note of how it feels – if you press on your meat (with your cooking tool of choice) and it feels about the same as your palm, it is rare.

This test can be repeated using your other fingers in order to achieve different levels of doneness.

How to Cut Avocados

Is it me, or can you eat avocados with just about anything? Sometimes when I’m on the go, I’ll literally just eat an avocado, but I often struggle to use the whole thing.

Here’s a great video on how to get all the good stuff.

 

How to Dice a Tomato

Cooking sucks if you suck at it. But just like anything, it takes practice and perseverance.

I mean, we could just play fruit ninja and slice shit in mid-air, but that’s not actually going to help us.

Dicing tomatoes is one of those lessons we all must learn. Watch the video above and get ready to slice.

The real action happens at 1:00 minute.

 

P.s.

If the ninja technique works, let us know.

How to Chop an Onion

There’s a few basic lessons you need to master early on in your cooking career. Chopping an onion is one of them. Onions are staple in the kitchen.

Now just imagine I’m this guy (if you can dream it, you can be it).