Looking for some health and easy recipes that you can discover right from your pantry? Just ask Kelsey Nixon – host of the Emmy-nominated show Kelsey's Essentials on Cooking Channel, and author of the new cookbook,Kitchen Confidence: Essential Recipes and Tips That Will Help You Cook Anything.Check out our recent interview with Kelsey where you will discover some delicious ideas on how to stock your pantry and cook better this year.
Momtrends: What are some of your go-to kitchen essentials?
Kelsey Nixon: On my show and in my book I focus on essential tips, tools, and techniques that I think every home cook should know about. When it comes to a go-to “tip” I’m a huge fan of making it a priority to keep a well-stocked pantry. Nothing makes getting a home cooked meal on the table easier than being able to first turn to your pantry and find most of what you need there. By stocking up on canned goods like beans, tomatoes, broths/stocks, artichokes, and olives in addition to grains like quinoa, pasta, and rice you’ll always have a great base to build a meal upon. These ingredients are always in my pantry – as a result I know that I’m just a few steps away from making a delicious, nutritious and easy homemade meal for my family that I can feel good about.You can then fill in the blanks with other produce and protein. Developing a habit to cook from your pantry will make your life as a home cook so much easier.
An essential tool that I turn to every day (multiple times a day!) is a good, sharp chef’s knife. Working with a knife that is good quality and feels great in your hand will make you a more efficient cook and increase your confidence in the kitchen overall. When it comes to an essential technique, I think learning the basics behind a good stir-fry will immediately give you another quick weeknight dinner option. Knowing what pantry staples to rely on and the proper technique for this simple approach will equip you with the skills to whip out dinner in no time.
Momtrends: What are some of your tips for summer entertaining on a budget?
Kelsey Nixon: I love to entertain, but there’s no question that it can get expensive quick! A potluck can be a great way to host a party and only have to provide a few of the dishes, which helps to keep your budget under control. It’s also fun to see what your guests will bring and you may even walk away with a few new recipes to try. I also suggest turning to your pantry to see what you have on hand before you begin planning a menu for entertaining. Ingredients like canned beans are super affordable and a perfect pairing for a summer bbq. Whether you’re making a chilled bean salad or savory baked beans, it’s easy to feed a lot of hungry guests with a simple side dish like this. Canned tomatoes and broths are a perfect base for a big batch of sauce or marinades for meat to throw on the grill as well. Some of the world’s best chefs use canned tomatoes in their signature red sauces. That’s because fresh tomatoes are only in season three months out of the year. When tomatoes are canned, they maintain their flavor, nutrients and freshness – making them a fantastic option for a sauce that’s sure to please a crowd on a budget.
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Momtrends: What are some of your tips for healthy cooking?
Kelsey Nixon: Making an effort to plan your meals in advance will be a huge help when it comes to eating more healthfully. Having a plan will eliminate unnecessary mindless snacking and those last minute orders for pizza and Chinese take out. I think being more aware of what we’re eating is the first step to making smarter choices. I also think that cooking at home will automatically result in healthier eating options. When we reach for convenience foods, they’re usually lacking in nutrients. Even a simple homemade meal of a quick pasta sauce thrown together with canned tomatoes and veggies takes only minutes to make and is something you can feel good about serving your family. I always try and turn to what ingredients I have on hand first before resorting to take out or delivery. (Which I still do my fair share of!)
Momtrends: How did the idea for your new cookbook come about?
Kelsey Nixon: I really wanted to write a companion book to my show Kelsey’s Essentials. Just like on my show, I hope to inspire home cooks that anyone can cook - it’s simply following directions and then gaining the confidence to use cooking as a creative outlet. My cookbook is filled with recipes that I think every home cook should have in their back pocket. The recipes are familiar, yet updated. For example, my lasagna has butternut squash and parsnips and my roast chicken is slathered in Moroccan spices. The techniques are simple and straightforward, yet the flavors are exciting and different! Writing my cookbook was an unbelievable labor of love, one of the hardest yet most rewarding work projects I’ve ever done. I hope people enjoy the recipes as much as I do. I’m so proud of how it came together.
Momtrends: How do you find balancing work and mommy hood?
Kelsey Nixon: Difficult! I’m not sure I’ll ever feel like I’ve got the “balance” figured out. Most days I just feel like I’m juggling both roles. There are days when I’m a better career woman and there are days when I’m a better mom. I’ve found that the most important piece of advice I’ve received is to be kind to myself and realize that no one has it completely figured out. At times I feel like I’ve got a great rhythm and I’m really fulfilled. But there are also times when it’s necessary for me to step back and readjust my priorities. More than anything, I have gained a huge amount of love and respect for any mama out there trying to juggle multiple roles. It’s a really tough and often times thankless job, but it’s also an unbelievable gift to get to experience both. I wouldn’t wish for it to be any other way.
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