Posts tagged home chef
Basic Knives for Easy Cooking

One thing I learned later on in my cooking days (before cooking classes or cooking certifications) was the number 1 essential you need to prepare simple meals. Aside from whole foods being essential, of course, we’re talking about tools today people! If you have just ONE knife that cuts with ease, it’ll get the most mileage in your kitchen than any other tool. Great knives get the job done safely and with ease! (Think about the day you finally replaced your mattress - it’s a similar feeling when you have a knife that actually cuts.)

Springtime is a wonderful time of the year to cleanse your home of stuff you don’t use or don’t work (such as dull knives). Typically, I recommend donating items you don’t use, but in the instance of dull knives, toss them. They could be dangerous to the next user. NYC has instructions how to recycle knives here. A simple Google search will help you recycle your knives if you live outside of Manhattan.

Today, I share with you the 3 most basic knives to prepare simple meals. If your budget is only for 1 knife, my vote is for a chef’s knife. I do not recommend buying a whole knife set, because there may be knives that just take up space and you never use. Instead, head to your local kitchen supply store, and go straight to the knife section. I find the workers to be educated and happy to help you find the best knife for your style of cooking. Don’t feel pressure to buy right away. Write down the model and look online for the best deal.

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Chef’s Knife

I want you to think about this knife as a sharp extension of your hand. (Not quite like Edward Scissorhands, but connected to you.)

Your chef’s knife is your workhorse in the kitchen which is designed to mince, slice, and chop vegetables, as well as slice meat and fish with ease.

If your budget only allows 1 solid knife, this is the knife to invest in.

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Paring Knife

The small size of the paring knife gives you more control over your knife with one hand, allowing more detail with your cutting. This knife is easy to maneuver on your cutting board with a fine point.

Use your paring knife to peel and core fruits & vegetables, slice garlic & shallots, and score designs on various types of food.

If your budget allows for 2 knives, this is the second knife to invest in.

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Serrated Knife

This is an extremely sharp knife with a toothlike and scalloped edge that will make cutting hard surfaces, like crusty bread or slippery surfaces, such as ripe tomatoes. The teeth of the blade catch the surface of the food and make it as simple as slicing into fresh grass-fed butter. (This knife can also very easily slice your finger, so please keep your eyes focused and your fingers out of cutting space. We’ll talk more about knife safety and cutting skills another time.)

If your budget allows for 3 knives, this is the third knife to invest in.

 

One Final Note…

When you have a great knife, handle it with care and ALWAYS hand wash it and stow it away safely. Doing so will allow the longest life and mileage of your knife.

In the meantime, I want to share with you a great resource I found to help from proper handling of your knife to sharpening, and care of your knife. Wusthof is the brand we keep on hand at Bliss in the Kitchen, and the economical brand I recommend as starter knives as you step up your home cooking game. Take a look through their library at Knife Skills Academy to learn some basics.

We want to know: Would you be interested in a knife skills class at the Bliss in the Kitchen Studio, or your home?

Why We Cook at Home

Growing up, it was a rare occasion that we’d eat out at restaurants. There were so many of us to feed that it could end up being quite expensive. Instead, my parents made it a point to invite all 6 of us into the kitchen to learn how to cook or bake. I remember my Dad flipping over an omelette in a special omelette pan, and my mom throwing down stacks of pancakes. Ahhh, the smell of Saturday mornings…

Looking back, there were definitely some meals that were not made with the best ingredients (including: skim milk and various “low fat” products, margarine, vegetable oil, sugary cereals and more). They didn’t know any better, and were victims of the food industry marketing dollars hard at work, as they would stock up on these items during sales at the grocery store.

Now living in NYC for almost 15 years, I know first hand how easy to eat out. As soon as you step outside, you bypass numerous bakeries and inviting restaurants. It’s also way too easy to order in, as there are just about 2 handfuls of apps that we can just lift our fingers to order a meal. The issue here is that the we’re becoming disconnected from our plate, leaving it up to restaurants to make our food decisions for us, which means we’re putting a ton of trust in the unknown.

The habit of cooking was instilled in me as a child, and I truly love the ritual of cooking at home. It gives me the most control over my food choices. But, aside from assisting with the quality of our food, cooking at home brings in many other wonderful benefits and joy! Here are just a few:

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Cooking is much cheaper than eating out.

As a CPA, I track all our expenses. [Insert nerd face here.] There was a point in time where we ordered most meals out or ate at almost all our meals spending well over $40-$50 per day per person on food a day. Now that we eat almost all of our meals at home, we spend about half that amount, coming in at roughly $17-$20 per day per person. (Hello, secret vacation & adventure fund!) Who here doesn’t like to save money?

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Cooking is a great stress reliever.

When I used to work in Corporate America, I’d eat almost all meals at my desk or out on the run, just about EVERY day of the week. Towards the end of my time working in Finance, more and more I would bring each meal to work, and opt in to eat dinner at home. This means, I’d enjoy the end of my day with late(r) night cooking at home. I found this time to be very special as it helped me get off the screens, and unwind after a hectic day. I noticed I connected with my food as cooking required my full attention. (Many times, my husband would either meal prep or cook for us, so I could either cook or eat when I arrived home. #teamwork )

While cooking can help you become more mindful, on a more serious note, the activity of cooking is used in mental health clinics to help combat depression, anxiety and addiction.

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Cooking can be a social activity.

Whether it’s a Tuesday, or a holiday meal, creating a home cooked meal tastes better when you add LOVE. I spend time creating meals with my husband and #soninlove. I also love to cook with friends and family, as I see that they might make a dish differently than I would make it, and play with a variety of ingredients that I wouldn’t necessarily grab to cook with first.

 

Here’s how you can get started cooking at home…

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Build up your food stock.

Leave a list on your fridge for everyone in your family to add to, or keep a list in your phone that everyone has access to keep kitchen essentials and food inventory stocked at all times.

Keep staple items on hand like grains, oils, and spices.

Keep fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, coming in frequently. Make it at least a weekly ritual to grocery shop.

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Make a date night.

Bring extra love into your kitchen, by inviting your spouse, child or friend to cook with you.

One of you can take the lead as head chef, and the other person can be your sous chef.

Clean while you cook and keep your cooking space neat. You’re more likely to use your kitchen if it’s tidy. #mariekondo

As you have extra hands, use this time to prepare extra ingredients for future meals.

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Set the mood.

Play your favorite music and sing along! Enjoy a moment away from screens as aromas burst into the air. Not only does this add more love to your meals, but the end up tasting better. Try it!

We hope you enjoy how we keep home cooking on heavy rotation in our home.

Let us know if you find these basic tips helpful!

We want to know, how often do you cook?

Recipe: Coco-Nola

This plant-based recipe is a staple in our house. It’s so versatile that our code name is: Kitchen Sink Cereal. You can change up the ingredients for whatever you have on hand, so the flavors are always changing and you end up with a nice variety of homemade cereals. The home chef level of this recipe: beginner.

A a super high level, granola can made in 4 stages. (You’ll see more details below, but just so you can get the concept of “how to” make your own cereal without getting overwhelmed by the details.)

  1. Prep your ingredients.

  2. Heat your dressing.

  3. Bake.

  4. Mix in remaining ingredients + let cool.

We hope you enjoy this goodness as much as we do!

Coco-Granola filled to the tippy top of a giant mason jar. It’s what’s on the inside that counts!

Coco-Granola filled to the tippy top of a giant mason jar. It’s what’s on the inside that counts!

Prepped Baking Sheet

Preheat your oven.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Line a 13 x 18-inch rimmed baking sheet with (crumpled) parchment paper.

 
Granola Dry Ingredients

Prep your ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, add the following & mix well:

2 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten free)

1/2 cup sliced unsalted almonds

1/2 cup coarsely chopped unsalted pecans

1/2 cup coarsely chopped unsalted walnuts

1/2 cup unsalted sunflower or pumpkin seeds

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

 
Coconut + Honey in saucepan

Heat your dressing.

In a small saucepan, whisk together the following:

1/2 cup coconut oil (unrefined)

2/3 cup raw honey

Once consistent texture, pour coconut/honey mixture over your dry ingredients + coat evenly.

 
Granola mixed read to bake

Bake.

Using a spatula, spread the granola mixture evenly onto your prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring and re-spreading a few times with a spatula, until the entire mixture is medium golden brown. (I like to bake for 10 minutes, then toss in increments of 5 minutes.)

Watch carefully towards the end, as it burns quickly. It will brown first in the corners and on the bottom.


Granola with dried fruit

Mix & let cool.

Transfer the granola to another baking sheet or heat proof surface to stop the cooking process (simply lift the granola off the baking sheet using the parchment overhang).

Toss the granola with a spatula and mix with 1 cup of dried fruits (such as cranberries, raisins, cherries, chopped apricots, currants, etc. Use your favs!)

Spread/press into an even layer, then let cool to room temperature. If stuck together, break the granola into clusters and store in an airtight container.


Stored Granola

Enjoy!

Serve on top of yogurt + fruit berries.

Add 1/4 cup of granola + (plant based) milk + fresh berries.

Stores in an airtight container all week long (or longer if you make it last).

We’ll make this again some time to show you our variety. In the meantime, let us know if you make this recipe + how you change it up in the comments.

Welcome to the Blog-dee-dah!

We’re opening the doors to our kitchen, pantry, fridge, grocery bags and more!

Would you like help making your kitchen the focal point of your home? Then, please join us here monthly for tips and tricks to create healthy habits for good! We’ll be sharing our family favorite recipes and how we create Bliss in the Kitchen all year long!

If you have special requests, we invite you to write us an Email, or reach out to us over on Instagram and Facebook. Let us know what you’re craving, and let us help you create a more nutritious version of your family favorite recipes. We absolutely love to hear from our readers and want this to be a place that can inspire you to create joy in your kitchen and on your plate!

Bliss in the Kitchen in action making dinner and homemade sourdough bread.

Bliss in the Kitchen in action making dinner and homemade sourdough bread.

In our kitchen, we love to cook and play, creating foods that help my husband, my son-in-love, and me thrive! As we just celebrated Christmas in our house, I’ll share with you 3 staples in our kitchen that make life easier for us, and maybe you can even snag those after holiday shopping specials!

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Knives that cut.

Sharp knives that cut which are easy and safe to use is the starting point in our kitchen. It’s the tool that gets the most mileage. We invest knives from my favorite brand Wüsthof. They’re our #1 staple (and we even bring them along with us when we travel around the world).

Want to hone your knife skills? Check out Wüsthof’s FREE knife skills classes.

Boos Chopping Block

A solid chopping block.

Our #2 staple is a chopping block. Having multiple cutting boards is not only helpful in the kitchen, but also important for food safety (which we can talk more about another time). I leave the chopping block on display on the counter, as it sets our kitchen stage and invites us to cook. I have fallen for the Boos Block to cut produce.

Boos carries all different shapes and sizes for various food prep needs. When you take care of your block, it can last for 10-20 years. Find out how to maintain and maximize the shelf life of your block here.

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Keep whole foods on-hand.

Our #3 staple is keeping whole foods that are fresh and in season on heavy rotation. Our kitchen serves as an experimentation room, as we find the foods that we enjoy eating the most and help us feel our best.

With multiple mouths to feed, I get some help from online grocers, such as Fresh Direct, Food Kick, and Amazon Prime. For items they don’t carry, and to see what else is available, we take trips to Whole Foods, and our local Farmers Markets in NYC.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from Bliss in the Kitchen!