Nine Cozy and Sage Kitchen Staples

As the chief chef here at Cozy and Sage (as well beauty editor, editorialist, and custodian), I have come to appreciate the security of knowing I can toss a nutritious and satisfying meal together quickly and easily with what I have around the house (ahem: office).

I try never to run low on these items:

1. Canned Black Beans

While any kind of canned bean would be a good choice here, I find black beans to be  most tasty and versatile (although I do love kidney beans, as well). Beans are high in fiber and protein, and can pair well with both carbohydrates and vegetables. The canned versions are also marvelously easy to use, though if you want to be super budget conscious and have the time, soaking, cooking, and freezing dried beans can be an economical meal prep solution.

2. Canned Diced Tomatoes

There may be nothing more multifaceted in my cupboard than canned diced tomatoes. Unassuming and delicious, they lend themselves to all kinds of recipes, such as pasta sauces, soups, various Mexican-inspired dishes, and even as an additive to a slow cook pot roast. They also come in many varieties now; I prefer the fire roasted for most dishes, but I also like having an unseasoned variety on hand for pasta especially.

3. Dried Spaghetti (high fiber)

It’s hard to beat a traditional spaghetti meal for ease and satiety. I always get the Barilla white fiber version, as it contains some extra fiber but doesn’t alter the taste too much. Almost any kind of sauce (homemade or canned) will do. Paired with some garlic bread and a salad, this great meal comes together quickly and beautifully.

4. Salsa

We love Mexican food here at the home (office?) of Cozy and Sage—so much so we have to actively make sure we are always stocked with salsa. Offered with chips as an afternoon snack or poured over eggs for breakfast, salsa is one of those items improving almost any dish. (If in a real pinch, it can even substitute for canned diced tomatoes—see above—in many cases.)

5. Bouillon cubes

If I were a little more motivated and had a bit more time, I would definitely attempt to make my own broth. As things currently stand, having a small stash of bouillon cubes will have to do. While this isn’t something I use all of the time, it is one of those items I sorely miss when I need it and find the box empty. For me, bouillon cubes are a must for soups and stews, and a nice thing to have for the occasional broth soup (for times when you have a cold or just want something warm and salty).

6. Rice

Rice is another all-arounder lending its talents to numerous types of cuisine. I love rice in all its forms: jasmine, brown, long grain . . . however I can get it. Combine with any kind of protein and a veggie, and dinner is served! When I have the time and inclination, I will sometimes cook up a large batch of rice and portion some out to be frozen for later use. This can make future meals even quicker to prepare!

7. Frozen Veggies (in Steamer Bags)

One of the greatest food-related inventions of the last century (in my humble opinion) is the steamer bag. A variety of vegetables can be taken from the freezer and popped into the microwave for a nutritious dinner addition in a matter of mere minutes. For a parent who is constantly attempting to make sure there is a vegetable involved in every dinner, these bags are a boon!

8. Eggs

So simple and so nutritious, eggs can add an easy and satisfying protein to a meal at a moment’s notice. They are usually necessary to have on hand for various recipes, plus they can become the main dish in a pinch! Frittatas, quiches, and scrambles can make for great meals and are generally simple to prepare. They are incredible, and they are edible. Just sayin’.

9. Shredded Cheese

I usually don’t prefer to get pre-cut or pre-shredded items due to the increased cost. This is one exception I do make, however, just because it can lend itself to so many dishes in a hurry. I try to buy the largest bag I can; it lasts a long time in the refrigerator and the larger size usually proves a better value. This ingredient is useful for nachos, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, and as a topping on a variety of meals.

simple red beans and rice

While things can be a bit hectic around our home office, I am comforted by the fact I can almost always whip up a nutritious and tasty (if simple) meal with what I already have on hand. As long I stay stocked up, I have very little need to make any emergency runs to the store, which as a very busy person is something I value highly!

What are your kitchen staples?

Thanks for the read; stay cozy!

10 Cozy Meals in About 10 Sage Minutes

KNIFE AND FORK ON TABLE

Do you work? Go to school? Have kids? Live? There are bound to be times in any schedule when a quick meal for one, or a crowd, is required. Here are 10 meal ideas that can be prepared in about 10 minutes and can be scaled to meet your needs.

  1. Cucumber, avocado, and tomato salad– Just slice everything up and add your favorite salad dressing or a splash of olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.
  2. Warm tomato and cheese sandwich– Spread a bit of butter on two slices of bread. Top one side with sliced tomato and then your favorite cheese. Bake, open-faced, on cookie sheet in 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes. Take out of oven (carefully), and put two halves together while still warm.

    tomato sandwich caprese

    (this time I added basil and vinegar)

  3. Couscous salad– Make the couscous according to package directions (almost always less than 10 minutes). While the couscous is cooking, chop up some tomatoes and/or cucumbers. Add veggies to cooked couscous along with a bit of your favorite Italian-style salad dressing (or, alternately, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper). This salad is delicious warm or cold!
  4. Eggs on avocado toast– Top slices of toast with mashed avocado and an over-easy egg. Spice with salt, pepper, and a dash of lime juice.
  5. BTC– Just like a BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato), but the lettuce is replaced by, you guessed it, cucumber! Simply spread mayo on two slices of bread and stack your cooked bacon, tomato, and cucumber. A dash of dried dill or Italian seasoning wouldn’t go amiss here, either!
  6. Chicken burritos– Shred some rotisserie chicken and warm up a can of drained black beans in the microwave. To tortillas, add chicken and black beans, and top with tomatoes, shredded cabbage or lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Yum!
  7. Chili potato– “Bake” a potato in the microwave and top with your favorite pre-made chili, a smattering of cheese, and a bit of sour cream.
  8. “Green” Breakfast for dinner– In a warm, buttered pan, add several handfuls of spinach and/or salad greens. When greens are wilted, add beaten eggs and cook to desired (scrambled egg) consistency. Add a favorite cheese, if you like. Serve with whole wheat toast and A1 Steak Sauce.

    Green scramble

    “greens and feta scramble”

  9. Pasta– Ever the perennial simple meal, boiling up some pasta and adding a can of premade sauce, a can of diced tomatoes, or just some olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper is about as easy as it gets. Include a bagged of steamed veggies or (better yet) some cut up peppers or cucumbers on the side to round out the meal.
  10. Lamb Burgers– Like the traditional hamburger, but using ground lamb. Top with feta cheese and Tzatziki sauce and serve with sliced cucumber. (We like cucumbers around here.)

Hope you enjoyed this quick post about fast and simple food. More easy and delicious recipes coming soon.

Thanks for stopping by! What does your family eat on a busy night?

Stay cozy!

My Simplest Dinner Plan

 

Over the course of a decade I have developed a few VERY simple dinner plans that are both a breeze to prepare and mostly nutritious.

This meal includes a protein, a carbohydrate (our household nutrition needs demand one), and a green vegetable (yes, I insist it must be green).

Tonight I cooked some boneless pork chops in a skillet with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I steamed some simple white rice (though I usually prefer jasmine or brown) and used a steamer bag of mukimame. This meal, especially with the help of the steamer bag, took 20 minutes to prepare, tops!

simple meal

I added my favorite Hoisin sauce tonight as well- Soy Vay Garlic Hoisin, yum! There are countless ways to modify this meal plan, below are our favorites.

Simplest Dinner Plan(s)

Protein– pork, chicken, beef, or veggie patty sautéed in frying pan with your choice of oil and salt and pepper.

Carbohydrate (optional)- rice (traditional or steamer bag), sweet potato done in the microwave, couscous, or quinoa.

GREEN vegetable– I don’t care what it is as long as it’s a vegetable and it’s green (I often let my son choose for us).

I find this to be an easy formula on nights when I just don’t know what to make for dinner or if I have very little time. I adore the simplicity of it in preparation as well as flavors; although, I do sometimes add any sauces we happen to have on hand when I need to jazz it up a bit.

Hope this is helpful! Stay cozy.