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Cooking & Kitchen Tips

Key Staple Ingredients for Your Kitchen

October 9, 2015


I always get asked what key staples I keep in my kitchen since I love to cook, so I thought I would share my words of wisdom with you.  Here are what I think are key staple ingredients for your kitchen.  Depending on what you like to cook the most, your staples may be a bit different than mine.

  • Olive Oil is my top staple that I always keep in my kitchen.  I use it in so many things, that I go through a lot of it.  Olive Oil gives most things a great flavor, and it is much healthier than using butter.  If you are saving an expensive bottle of Olive Oil only for special occasion, but aware that once you open the bottle it only lasts several months at the most.
  • Chicken Broth is another essential pantry item I keep in my kitchen.  I do like to make my own on occasion, but sometimes I do not have the time.   Regardless of whether or not you use Beef Broth, Chicken Broth or Veggie Broth, it is nice to have around.  It can be used for so many things such as soups, rice dishes, braising meat, sauces and so much more. If you are vegetarian, vegetable broth is good to keep on hand as well. I also keep beef broth on hand for anything I might do with red meat.
  • I keep minced garlic in a jar in my refrigerator just in case I don’t happen to have any fresh garlic in the house.  Fresh garlic is always better, but minced garlic in a jar is better than not having any garlic at all.  As an Italian, I tend to use garlic in just about everything, and it’s very healthy for you.
  • Flavored Vinegars – I love finding new flavored vinegars to keep in my pantry.  I like to play around with making my own salad dressings.   Vinegar can also be used in homemade marinades for meat or sauces.  I use balsamic vinegar the most, but I also love the champagne vinegar from Trader Joes that I really love.
  • Dijon Mustard can be used for so many different things such as salad dressings, marinades, dipping sauces, etc.  I have used Dijon mustard on filet roasts, salmon, chicken, and pork roasts.  Of course, I mix it with other things as well.  I have experimented over the years, so I have learned what taste best and what does not.  One that I really like is Dijon mustard and brown sugar on salmon.  I am not a huge salmon fan, but I do really like it that way.
  • Tomato Puree/Tomato Paste/Canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes – I cook a lot of pasta, so I always have these three things in my kitchen.  There are so many things you can do with tomatoes and/or tomato sauces.  The possibilities are endless.  I also like to keep fresh tomatoes in my frig.  I love heirloom tomatoes, so I buy those a lot when they are in season.  I also buy a lot of Roma and grape tomatoes.
  • I always keep pasta noodles of different sorts on hand because I cook so much pasta. There are so many things you can do with pasta that everyone should make this a staple. There are many different gluten-free pastas out there now that are actually pretty good. When in season, I like to use spaghetti squash instead of noodles. Stayed tuned for recipes using spaghetti squash!
  • Although I do keep dried herbs in my pantry, I would much rather use fresh herbs.  Fresh herbs can really change the flavor of what you are cooking.  If you have an herb garden, even better than having to buy from a store.  The fresh herbs I use the most are:  Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Italian Parsley and Basil.
  • You can pretty much use cheese in many dishes, so I always try to keep a few different cheeses in my frig.  My favorites are:  Fontina, Parmesan, Manchego, Gouda, Gruyere and Brie.