As the novel coronavirus continues to spread and just about everyone across the country consider the possibility of self-quarantine or “social distancing,” one can’t help but wonder: Am I really going to eat all the protein bars I hoarded at Costco?
Not if you’re stuck at home for two weeks, potentially unwell or taking care of someone who is unwell. You did the right thing by stocking up (within reason) on toilet paper, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. But, remember: This isn’t an earthquake stash. Should there be a quarantine or lockdown — government or self-issued — you will likely have refrigeration, electricity and a lot of time on your hands to nourish yourself and the ones you love.
In other words, you’ll want to cook.
“From my standpoint, there’s no reason to live on snack bars and meal replacement drinks,” says Los Gatos’ Marlene Koch, a registered dietitian nutritionist and New York Times best-selling cookbook author. “With a quick stock of your freezer and pantry, you can have the ingredients it takes to not only feed someone who is not feeling well but to feed the whole family.”
But what are those ingredients, and how much do you buy? Koch, who pens the health-focused “Eat What You Love” cookbook series, says you should start with simple family favorites — say, slow-cooker Pulled Pork or Sheet Pan Chicken — keeping protein as a top priority.
Because “protein needs vary widely between men and women, or young kids and teenagers, it’s hard to say how much to buy,” Koch says. In general, she recommends 4 ounces of protein per person per day. The USDA recommends 5-1/2 ounces of lean meat — the equivalent of 1-1/4 cups cooked beans — for a 2,000-calorie daily diet.
“I would stock the freezer with a variety of 2- to 3-pound bags of lean ground beef or turkey, chicken tenders, or even shrimp,” she says. “Remember, your quarantine may be for weeks but your bounty will last for months. If they buy too much, these are ingredients that people can be grilling outside come summer.”
Also in that freezer: Tortillas, microwaveable rice or quinoa, frozen fruit for smoothies and frozen vegetables to stir into soups, grain bowls and easy pasta dishes.
Not all frozen veggies are created equal — she prefers corn and peas over, say, frozen broccoli — but as long as you get some greens into your meals you’re eating well. “It may also be comforting to know that frozen veggies have the same beneficial nutrient qualities as fresh,” Koch adds.
Canned and dry goods, too, are no-brainers when it comes to making healthful meals without access to a grocery store. Think outside the cupboard when it comes to this category. Sure, you should have on hand your favorite pasta or grain, nut butter, canned tuna or sardines, diced tomatoes, and, of course, beans. But using dried mushrooms instead of fresh mushrooms can yield a divine Instant Pot risotto.
And don’t even get Koch started on beans. Pinto, black, garbanzo, kidney or cannelli — you can make meals to last well beyond two weeks, from a hearty Black Bean Chili or this brilliant Seven-Can Chicken Taco Soup. Here’s an even easier one, courtesy of Koch: “Puree a can of black beans with salsa, chicken or vegetable broth and cumin,” she says.
Cumin is among her shaker staples because it is used in many cuisines. Other spices to pep up dishes, or in lieu of the fresh version: Smoked paprika, chile flakes, garlic powder, ground ginger and dried herbs, especially thyme and oregano, which can easily substitute for the real thing when making, say, a roast chicken with the former or spaghetti sauce with the latter.
Here are a few other Koch tricks: Combine canned tuna with a low-sodium cream soup, like cream of broccoli, mushroom or celery, and add jarred artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes for a new-age casserole. Leftover potato chips? Crumble on top to add a crunchy topping, she says. If a recipe calls for milk or cream, she uses oat milk.
“Swirl it into coffee, oatmeal, soups,” she says. “Unlike almond milk it is actually creamy and mimics the texture of dairy milk.”
For a simple yet satisfying plant-based dish, Koch adds a can of chickpeas to fresh-cooked pasta and throws in a few handfuls of spinach or kale, garlic and broth. Craving spice and have some frozen sausage? Try spicy Chickpea and Chorizo Stew, substituting frozen diced red and yellow bell peppers if you don’t have the fresh in your fridge.
But not everyone is looking for the quick and easy cook when they’re on lockdown. If you’re stuck at home and find cooking or baking therapeutic, then, by all means, stock accordingly and throw yourself into Guittard’s Best Chocolate Cake Ever, knead your worries away with an Artisan Free-Form Loaf or use that can of pumpkin left over from the fall to make America’s Test Kitchen’s ultimate Pumpkin Bread.
And don’t forget the one fruit that you’ll want to overripen in the event you’re marooned at home: Bananas. When the world is amiss, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as mashing near-black bananas into a recipe for warm, comforting banana bread, especially when it’s studded with those chocolate chips you keep trying not to snack on. It’s time — snack on.
Pile the meat into soft rolls; serve with slaw and baked beans.
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder or garlic salt
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 5-pound boneless pork shoulder roast, fat trimmed
- Barbecue sauce for serving
Whisk the oil, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic powder, onion and Worcestershire sauce together in a mixing bowl. Pour into a large zipper-top plastic bag. Place the pork in the bag with the marinade, seal the bag and turn the pork to coat. Refrigerate overnight, turning the bag once or twice.
Pour the entire contents of the bag into the insert of a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours, until the pork is fork tender. Remove from slow cooker, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, skim off any fat from the sauce.
Using two forks, shred the meat, then return it to the sauce. At this point, the pork may be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Serve warm, with additional barbecue sauce.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Recipe from: Diane Phillips, “Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever”
Greek-Inspired Sheet Pan Chicken, Potatoes and Delicata Squash
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 to 5 cloves finely minced garlic (about 1-1/2 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon finely minced rosemary
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1-1/2 pounds)
- 1 large delicata squash (about 1 pound)
- 1-1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
- Fresh parsley or mint, lemon wedges for serving
Line a sheet tray with foil and place it in the oven to preheat at 500 degrees F, while you prepare the marinade and prep the chicken and vegetables.
In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt, minced rosemary, a few grinds of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne to make a marinade. Add the chicken to the bowl and toss to ensure all the pieces are evenly coated with the marinade. Set the chicken aside while you prep the potatoes and delicata squash.
Cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch thick wedges (if using small potatoes, you can simply cut them in half). Cut the delicata squash lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then slice each length of squash in 1/2-inch thick moons. Toss the potatoes, delicata squash and sliced onions with a light drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Using oven mitts, carefully remove the hot sheet pan from the oven. Add the potatoes and delicata squash to the pan, then nestle the chicken pieces, skin-side up, among the vegetables and drizzle with the marinade.
Return the sheet pan to the oven, lower the heat to 425 degrees F and roast for 35 to 45 minutes or until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through. Use tongs to flip the potatoes and squash halfway through the cooking time. You can leave the chicken, skin-side up for the whole cook time.
Garnish with parsley, mint and lemon wedges and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Instant Pot recipe: Quick Risotto with Wild Mushrooms and Gorgonzola
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 20 ounces low-sodium chicken stock, room temperature
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Press the sauté button to preheat your Instant Pot. When the word “hot” appears on the display, add the olive oil, then the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and most of it has evaporated, 7 to 8 minutes.
Add the onions and cook until they’re opaque and softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rice. Cook about another 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the white wine to deglaze the pot and allow most of it to absorb into the rice. Press “cancel” to turn off the Instant Pot.
Pour the chicken stock into the Instant Pot, and close and lock the lid. Press “manual” and adjust the timer to 6 minutes. Check that the cooking pressure is on high and that the release valve is set to “sealing.”
When the time is up, open the Instant Pot using “quick pressure release.” Stir in the cream and Gorgonzola, adding more cheese to taste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you like pepper, go a little heavy here; it works well in this dish.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Recipe from: Kristy Bernardo, “Weeknight Cooking with your Instant Pot”
Black Bean Chili
- 1 pound lean hamburger or ground turkey
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed
- 3 tablespoons hot chili powder, Grandma’s preferred
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3 to 4 (14.5-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon canned chipotle chili puree, if desired (see below)
- Sour cream to garnish
- Chopped green onions to garnish
- Shredded Monterey Jack to garnish
Using a large pot, brown the meat in oil, along with onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin. When the meat is browned and the onion is clear, drain the fat and add Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, red bell pepper and black beans. (Adjust the amount of black beans to vary the thickness of the chili.)
Simmer on low for 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add a bit of water or even beer if the chili begins to stick or thicken too much.
Just before serving, add cilantro and chipotle puree. (To make chipotle puree, blend a can of chipotle chilies along with the adobo sauce in a blender or food processor. The puree can be stored, refrigerated, for a week and in the freezer for several months.) Garnish with sour cream, green onions and Monterey Jack as desired. Serves four to six.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Recipe adapted from: Sunset Magazine and Jeff Smith’s “
The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American”
Seven-Can Chicken Taco Soup
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 (15-ounce) can sweet corn, drained
- 1 (12.5-ounce) can chicken breast, drained and flaked
- 1 (28-ounce) can green enchilada sauce
- 1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Combine all the ingredients, except the garnishes, in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Lower heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with lime wedges, shredded cheese and tortilla chips, as desired.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Recipe from: B.R. Flannery
Serve this stew with a hunk of crusty bread on the side and a crisp salad, or use it as a topping for pasta or a grain bowl.
Chickpea and Chorizo Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion or shallots, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 8 ounces Spanish chorizo sausage, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2 teaspoons hot smoked or sweet paprika (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 2 cups red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- Two 16 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 14-ounce can chopped or crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped parsley to garnish
Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the onions or shallots and saute them for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they are softened and golden. Add the chopped garlic to the pan and fry for 30 seconds to a minute.
Add the chopped Spanish chorizo, paprika and cumin and fry for another 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the chopped bell peppers, chickpeas and tomatoes and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes.
Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed, then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let the stew gently simmer, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Makes 3 to 4 servings.
Grandma’s Chocolate Cake
For the cake:
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons Guittard Cocoa Rouge or Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1-3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1-3/4 cups sugar
- 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons full-fat buttermilk
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the ganache:
- 2-2/3 cups Guittard Semisweet Chocolate Baking Wafers
- 1-1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
White chocolate buttercream:
- 3/4 cup Guittard Choc-Au-Lait Baking Chips or white chocolate
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, at room temperature
For the cake: Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans.
In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Off heat, add cocoa powder. Whisk until smooth; set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. With a hand mixer, beat in buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth, 2 minutes. Add cocoa mixture; blend until combined, 30 seconds. Divide batter between cake pans; let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer cakes to a rack to cool for 30 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment; sprinkle lightly with sugar. Using a knife, loosen cake sides. Invert a wire rack over the top of the cake pan, carefully flip rack and pan together. Gently shake pan until cake falls out. Invert a second wire rack on the bottom of the cake and flip it right-side up. Repeat with remaining cake. Cool for about 1 hour. Place cakes on prepared baking sheet; refrigerate until completely cold, about 1 hour.
For the ganache: Put the semisweet chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring cream and corn syrup just to a boil. Pour hot cream mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for 3 minutes, then whisk until melted. Add butter and stir until combined. Pour ganache into a shallow, flat, glass baking dish; cool at room temperature for 1 hour, or until spreadable. (At this point, you can wrap it tightly in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 1 day.)
For the buttercream: Melt white chocolate chips in a bowl set over, but not touching, simmering water. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove bowl. Keep water simmering.
Place sugar, egg whites and salt in a second heatproof bowl and set it over the simmering water. Whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is very thin and warm, or until a candy thermometer reads 115 degrees. Transfer mixture to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes; reduce speed to low and mix until cool, about 10 minutes.
Add vanilla and butter on low speed. Add melted white chocolate in two additions, continuing to blend on low. Increase speed to medium and beat until buttercream is smooth and shiny.
Using a serrated knife, cut both cakes in half horizontally, for a total of four layers. Place one layer on a cake platter. Spread with a third of the ganache. Top with the second cake layer; repeat until you have four layers of cake sandwiching three layers of ganache. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Apply a “crumb coat” (or first layer) of buttercream: Spread half the buttercream on the cake top and sides. You’ll see some chocolate crumbs. Chill the cake for 15 minutes to firm. Use remaining buttercream to apply the final coat. Best enjoyed day of, but you can refrigerate this cake in an airtight container up to 1 day.
Recipe from: Amy Guittard, “Guittard Chocolate Cookbook”
Artisan Free-Form Loaf
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
- 6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour.
Mixing and storing the dough: Place water in 5-quart bowl or, preferably, in resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container. Add yeast and salt – don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve. Measure flour by scooping it out of its container and leveling off with spatula or knife.
Add flour all at once and mix until blended with wooden spoon, food processor (14-cup or larger), or heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with dough hook. If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate last bit of flour. Don’t knead! You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches.
Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours. Longer rising times, up to about 5 hours, will not harm result. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period, although fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with.
When you’re ready to bake: Prepare pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven. Sprinkle surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough and cut it off, using a serrated knife.
Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed to avoid sticking. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. The entire process should take no more than 30 to 60 seconds. Allow the loaf to rest, uncovered, on the cornmeal-dusted peel for about 40 minutes.
Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on a lower shelf. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tick-tack-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.
After a 20-minute preheat, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the preheated baking stone. Quickly pour about 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Remove and allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack.
Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days.
Makes 4 (1-pound) loaves.
Recipe adapted from: “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,”
by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François
The test kitchen’s solution is brilliant: Cook down the puree first and you’ll concentrate the pumpkin flavor and eliminate any tinge of tin. They add cream cheese and buttermilk for tangy flavor — and mix the batter in the same pot, to minimize dishwashing. A quick crumbly topping not only adds flavor and texture, it helps fight the sog factor.
One final tip: Measure your loaf pan. This recipe is designed for a pan that measures 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inches. If yours is 9 by 5, start checking for doneness five minutes earlier.
America’s Test Kitchen Pumpkin Bread
- For the topping:
- 5 tablespoons packed (2-1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- For the bread:
- 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 15-ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped fine
Using your fingers, mix all the topping ingredients in a bowl until well combined. The mixture should resemble wet sand.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-1/2 by 4-1/2-inch loaf pans.
Whisk flour, baking powder and baking soda together in bowl.
Using a large saucepan set over medium heat, cook the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cloves, stirring constantly, until reduced to 1-1/2 cups, 6 to 8 minutes. Off heat, stir in granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil and cream cheese until combined. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until no visible pieces of cream cheese remain and mixture is homogeneous.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and buttermilk together, then whisk into pumpkin mixture. Gently fold in the flour mixture until combined (some small lumps of flour are OK). Fold in walnuts.
Scrape batter into prepared pans, smooth tops and sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.
Let loaves cool in pans for 20 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool for 1-1/2 hours before serving.
Makes 2 loaves.
Recipe from: America’s Test Kitchen
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 5 very ripe medium-size bananas, peeled
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Microwave the butter in 30-second intervals until melted, stirring in between, about 1 minute. Cool to room temperature.
Place the bananas in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until the bananas are tender, 5 minutes. Transfer the bananas to a strainer set over a bowl. Press the bananas to release the liquid, stirring occasionally and allowing the banana liquid to drain for 15 minutes.
Collect the banana liquid — it should yield 1/2 to ¾ cup — and transfer it to a small pan. Over medium-high heat, reduce the liquid to 1/4 cup, 5 to 7 minutes.
In a bowl, mash the cooked bananas and reduced liquid to a puree. You should have about ¾ cup. The puree should be slightly warm, but not hot, when you whisk in the butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture, using a spatula to fold the ingredients until just combined. Fold the batter just enough to hydrate the flour, yet keep gluten formation to a minimum. A few streaks of flour should remain, but do not overmix.
Grease an 8-1/2 by 4-1/2-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Place it on a small sheet tray. (If your pan is 9 by 5 inches, check the cooking time at least 5 minutes earlier, as the larger pan will cause the bread to cook more quickly.) Transfer the batter to the pan and bake until golden brown, 55 to 70 minutes.
After 30 minutes, loosely cover the banana bread with foil to reduce browning and help create a dome shape. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean with some crumbs attached. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn loaf out onto a wire rack, flip back upright and allow to cool 1 hour before serving.
Makes 1 loaf.
Recipe reprinted with permission from:
“Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking” by Jessica Gavin