Kitchen Staples

May 15, 2012 by Kari Karch

I’ve finally learned the true meaning of keeping staples in my kitchen. No, not the little metal things to keep your paperwork neatly fastened together, but the essentials that every good cook should keep on hand to cook a magnificent meal at a moment’s notice. Let’s just say I used to be a foodie on the run prior to my days in culinary school, grabbing whatever I needed to make a meal and not really seeing the money I was throwing in the trash. Well the buck stops here, literally. I’ve devised a plan to keep just ten ingredients in my kitchen as a ‘go-to’ method of cooking. The simplicity of knowing that I already have these certain items on hand not only save me time, but money as well. I’ve learned to cut back on the more expensive cuts of meat in place of food that will be benefit me in the long run such as buying organic. I’ve also learned that a pint of Greek yogurt will not only make fabulous smoothies in the morning, but will also perk up those bland chicken strips that you make for your kids. All of the recipes I’ve designed complement the ideals that dinner has to be on the table in a reasonable amount of time and meet the taste expectations of your toughest critics.

First things first, here is the list of ingredients you will need to make these recipes, but one piece of advice…be creative and try things too! If the recipe calls for ground turkey and you are a vegetarian, then keep tempeh as a staple in your kitchen. If you don’t like using alcohol in recipes, simply substitute chicken stock or water. So get creative! Let your inner Julia Child come out and take charge.

  • Baby Carrots
  • Organic Spinach
  • Lemons
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Fat-Free Mozzarella
  • White Wine
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Organic Chicken Breasts
  • Organic Ground Turkey

Now that you have these staples, go ahead and try one of my delicious meals I’ve concocted and let me know what you think or tell us how you made one of these meals into a new and exciting dish! Happy eating.

Roasted Carrot and Ginger Soup


  • 1 lb organic baby carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ⅛ cup orange juice

Preheat oven to 375°. Place carrots on a baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Roast until tender and caramelized (shake the pan about halfway through to evenly roast); about 30–45 minutes. Set aside. In a Dutch oven, heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil and the butter.
Cook the shallots until tender—about 2–3 minutes.
Add the celery and fresh ginger and cook another 2–3 minutes.
Season with about 2 tsp. coarse salt and white pepper. Add the wine to the Dutch oven and reduce by half then add the chicken or vegetable stock and the carrots. Bring the soup to a boil, then down to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
If you have an immersion blender, you can easily puree the carrots. The soup will be very thick.
Add the white wine (if using) and then the orange juice. Taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking. Garnish with fresh chives or chervil, if desired.

Dijon Turkey Meatballs over Sautéed Spinach and Whole Wheat Pasta


  • 1 lbB lean ground turkey
  • ⅓ c whole wheat dry breadcrumbs
  • ¼ c finely chopped shallots
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Dijon Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 ½ c chicken stock
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb fresh spinach
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb whole wheat fettuccine pasta

To make the meatballs, preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients and form into one inch balls. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. While the meatballs are baking, make the Dijon sauce by heating the butter in a small sauce pot. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue whisking. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. The sauce should begin to thicken. Add the remaining ingredients and keep heat on low. Boil pasta according to package directions. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add garlic. Cook for one minute and add spinach. Wilt spinach. When the meatballs are done, add them to the spinach and pour Dijon sauce on top. Serve over whole wheat pasta.

Grilled Tomato and Spinach Salad with Turkey Bacon Dijon Vinaigrette


  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 French baguette, cubed
  • 4 large vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sea salt (preferably Maldon)
  • ½ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 lb fresh baby spinach
  • Turkey Dijon Vinaigrette:
  • 4 slices turkey bacon, cooked and diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ c extra virgin olive oil

Make the vinaigrette first by mixing all ingredients together except for olive oil. Using a whisk, slowly drizzle the oil into the bowl. Keep vinaigrette in fridge until ready to use. Preheat oven to 400°. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of oil onto the bread cubes and bake for 10–12 minutes or until toasted. Using a grill pan, heat on medium high heat and brush with 1 Tbsp oil. Place tomatoes on grill pan and season with salt and pepper. Turn over after 2 minutes and grill on other side. Remove and place over spinach. Top with bread and drizzle with turkey bacon vinaigrette.

Crispy Baked Dijon and Yogurt Chicken Strips


  • 2 cups Plain, Unflavored Yogurt
  • 2 cloves (to 3 Cloves) Garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Parsley, chopped
  • 1 whole (juice Of) Lemon
  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1” strips
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, small cubes


Pour yogurt into a mixing bowl. Peel and mince garlic; add garlic and garlic powder to the yogurt. Chop up a small amount of fresh parsley and add it to the yogurt. Add lemon juice. Mix together to combine.
Rinse chicken and pat it dry. Sprinkle with (kosher) salt and pepper.
In another bowl, place the bread crumbs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir lightly.
Butter a baking dish. With a pair of tongs, place the chicken, one piece at a time into the yogurt mixture. Turn it over thoroughly to coat. Then roll the chicken in the Panko bread crumbs. Cover each piece thoroughly with bread crumbs and place in the baking dish.
Place cubed butter over the large part of each chicken piece. Cover with foil and bake in a 350° oven for 1 to 1 ¼ hours, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking. When the chicken is nice and golden, remove from the oven. Serve with Dijon mustard.

Baked Chicken Roulade with Spinach and Mozzarella


  • ½ cup basil pesto (store bought or homemade)
  • 12 large spinach leaves, washed, dried and stemmed
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into ½ inch rounds
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 ¼ pounds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, and set aside. Two at a time, place the chicken breasts, smooth side up, between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, gently and evenly, pound the chicken to about ¼” thick. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Place each pounded chicken breast lengthwise on the covered baking sheet, smooth side down. Season with salt and pepper. Evenly divide the pesto and spread it over the surface of each piece of chicken. Press 3 spinach leaves on top, and add 2 teaspoons of mozzarella to the center of each. Very gently and tightly, roll the chicken away from you. Using a toothpick, secure the seam and place seam side down. Rub top of each roulade with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the roulades until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 15 minutes. Slice in half on a bias, or in a few rounds. Serve over whole wheat pasta or with zucchini noodles as a healthy side dish.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Ginger Dijon Dipping Sauce


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili garlic sauce (such as Sriracha)
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into small dice
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 3 tablespoons water chestnuts, minced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 8 Boston lettuce leaves (about 1 head)
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves (about 10 ounces)
  • ½ cup bean sprouts (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
  • Chopped peanuts (optional)

Combine first 9 ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Reserve 2 tablespoons oil mixture. Place remaining oil mixture in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken breast halves; seal and marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour, turning occasionally. Remove chicken from bag, and discard marinade. Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over medium high heat and add 1 tsp olive oil. Add chicken and cook through, about 6 minutes. Add in carrot, water chestnuts, and scallion and cook for 2 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before thinly slicing. Divide chicken evenly among lettuce leaves; top each lettuce leaf with 2 tablespoons mint, 1 tablespoon sprouts, and about 1 teaspoon reserved oil mixture. Serve with lime wedges. Garnish with chopped peanuts, if desired. Serve with spicy ginger Dijon dipping sauce on side (recipe below).

Spicy Ginger Dijon Dipping Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon
  • ¼ tsp sesame oil
  • ¼ tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 ½ tsp water
  • ¼ tsp sriracha

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Serve with lettuce cups.

Turkey and Spinach Orecchiette with Lemon White Wine Reduction


  • 1 box of orecchiette
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb. of turkey sausage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bag baby spinach, chopped
  • ½ c white wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Boil salted water for pasta and cook orecchiette according to package directions about 10 minutes. Save ¼ cup of pasta water. Chop the onion and coat pan with olive oil. Add onion and turkey sausage (remove sausage from casings) and cook until the sausage is browned and onions are soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beans and spinach and cook for a few minutes. Then add the pasta water and white wine, reduce for 2 minutes. Finish with lemon juice and a pat of butter. Add the pasta and toss until coated. Serve hot.

Kari Karch

Kari Karch is a 19-year veteran of the culinary industry, creator of Kiss the Cook, and the head chef and spokesperson for the Kenmore brand. She has made many notable appearances on ABC Morning News, on WGN, on the Cooking Channel and as a judge for the World Food Championships.