The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Karen's Kitchen

January 18, 2012

Make Ahead Dinners

TARBORO — I spent most of Sunday cooking. I love to cook so that is not a hardship. in this case, I was cooking ahead. Cooking ahead is a great way to save time, money and effort.

If you don’t really like to cook, it’s a great way to cook only once or twice a week. If you stay on the go a lot, cook most of the week’s meals at once and refrigerate or freeze them for later use. When you prepare a meal, it isn’t that difficult to prepare twice the amount that you need and freeze half. The next time that you’re in a hurry or just don’t feel like cooking, pull something out of the freezer, add a salad and bread and abracadabra, you have dinner.

The first recipe is Roman-Style Chicken. Don’t let the ingredient list throw you. It’s mostly spices. The recipe calls for 4 breast halves and 2 thighs. However, you can substitute any parts of the chicken that you want. You can also use bacon instead of Prosciutto. I haven’t had much luck with finding Prosciutto locally. If anyone knows where to buy any, please let me know.

The second recipe is Potatoes and Onions. It’s a simple recipe however, the addition of the Rosemary gives it a very distinctive taste. If you use fresh Rosemary instead of dried, remember to chop it finely and throw away the stems since it’s so woody.

The third recipe is a quick but delicious Stroganoff. It’s easy to prepare and it freezes well. When you make this one, make two. You’ll want it again soon!

There are lots of dishes that you can prepare in advance and then use later. When you plan your meals this week, ask yourself if it’s something that will freeze. If the answer is yes, double the recipe and freeze half for those times when you are busy.

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Karen's Kitchen
  • t-bone.jpg Reductions add zip to flavor

    When I cook, I often don't have a lot of time to spend making exotic meals, so I decided that I want to get more for less. In cooking that often means reductions. It’s amazing how the taste of something can change just by cooking it down until most of the liquid is gone. Reductions are so ridiculously easy that I often ask myself why I don’t use them more often. They also keep well in the refrigerator for several days.
    When creating reductions, it’s important that the ingredients be good quality. Concentrating a flavor that was mediocre to begin with changes it from mediocre to terrible. That particularly applies to wines, oils and vinegars. Buy the best that you can afford and don’t use anything that you wouldn’t want to taste alone.
    It’s also important to cook the reduction sauce moderately and until it reduces to a thick, syrupy consistency. It doesn’t take very long, but don’t be in a hurry or it will burn.

    March 6, 2013 1 Photo

  • Cheese-Fondue-Bread-2.jpg Great Fondues

    My husband and I love to entertain. We also love fondue. There is no more fun way to surprise guests with a great meal than to fondue. I have 4 or 5 fondue pots. I use them regularly.
    There are several ways to fondue. You can make the dessert fondue and I have a great chocolate fondue recipe below. Another fondue option is to have a cheese fondue for a starter before the meal or at a party.
    The last fondue option is to make the main course the fondue. With this option you can use either wine, a broth or oil for the fondue. I alternate usually between the broth and the oil. Sometimes I use peanut oil and sometimes I use canola oil. I don’t generally use vegetable oil because it has a lower smoke point.
    The first recipe is my wine fondue. The important thing to remember is to use a good white wine. Never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t serve to guests. It doesn’t have to be expensive but it does have to be a table wine. You can play with the spices to find the taste that you like.

    February 26, 2013 1 Photo

  • Cafe-Mocha.jpg How to Make Knock off Latte's and more...

    One of my weaknesses is Starbuck's Grande latté with 3 packets of Splenda. However, I live in a small town, like Tarboro, that doesn't have a Starbucks and I'm a cheapskate and don't want to spend that kind of money on a regular basis.  The answer to that is to learn to make your own. Obviously I am not the only one who has that I idea as I found recipes all over the internet. Many of the called for buying expensive equipment. If I have to do that, I might as well drive to Starbucks. So, these recipes don't require anything except blenders and pots. In a few cases they require a little patience. Find me on Facebook and let me know what you think!

    February 6, 2013 3 Photos

  • french onion.jpg Soup's On

    Even though the weather has been very warm lately, it will be cold again soon. When the cold comes back, it will be soup time. Of course, any time can be soup time! We love soup around our house.
    Our first recipe is ham and potato soup. It's a simple soup but will smell good and taste even better.
    The second soup is my all-time favorite - French Onion. I love it with a good gooey cheese on top. It's not a hard soup to make, so give it a try.
    The third is potato and cheddar. That's a hardy soup but will become one of your favorites. It also has ham so it's almost the same as the first soup but with cheddar cheese.
    The last soup is a leftover or potluck soup with pasta in it. This recipe makes 20 servings so you will have some to freeze or share!
    When winter rolls back around, enjoy the cold with one of these soups.

    January 16, 2013 2 Photos

  • 11240_aPO.jpg Craving Comfort

    Comfort food is different for everybody, but the deep satisfaction each mouthful brings is the same. To warm the body and the soul on a chilly day, give your favorite comfort foods a delicious makeover with recipes that use Wisconsin-made Grand Cru Gruyere cheese. Gruyere is a great melting cheese with lots of flavor, which means you get more flavor in every bite.

    October 3, 2012 3 Photos

  • crockpot zucchini.jpg Crockpot Sweet Things

    If you stay busy, your crockpot can be your best friend.  Even for dessert. These recipes take 2-3 hours to cook in your crockpot, so they can be cooking away while you are enjoying little league games or t-ball.

    September 26, 2012 2 Photos

  • rum ribs.JPG Cooking with Rum

    A few weeks ago, a colleague went to Jamaica. He came back with bottles of Rum for our team. A very nice gesture and of course that made me start looking for rum recipes! There are a lot of them out there. Here are a few that I really liked and that I think you will enjoy too.

    September 5, 2012 2 Photos

  • grilled-salmon.jpg Bounty of the Sear

    I'm currently working in Charleston. Probably until about the end of November. Of course that means great seafood. I can go down and buy it within a few hours of it coming off the boats. I love it! There is absolutely nothing that I love more than good seafood. Besides, I need the Omega 3's that come from eating seafood. So do you!

    August 22, 2012 2 Photos

  • butternut squash puree.jpg Butternut Squash is easy and delish!

    My garden is beginning to fade away! It's hard to believe that summer is so close to being a memory. I'm not ready! But, one of the things that I love about the end of summer is harvesting my winter squash. This season we planted butternut squash. We vary what we plant each season.

    August 15, 2012 2 Photos

  • Cool Summer Drinks

    It has been sooo hot! I guess that we are paying for the mild winter that we had. I know I felt that heat here in Charleston, where I'm working right now. So, when it feels like 110 in the shade, it's a great time to cool down with icy cold and delicious summer drinks. Especially since you can find fresh fruit to go in them right now!

    August 1, 2012

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