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23 search results for “pantry raid”

Pantry Raid: Baked Penne with Vodka Sauce

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Fact: Anything homemade is always better. Sauces, especially.

"Alternative" (ha, ha...) Fact: There are days when ain't nobody got time for that.

As far as I'm concerned, there's no shame in opening up a good boxed, canned jarred, or otherwise pre-made sauce from time to time. I've used many -- Italian marinaras and vodka sauces, Indian and Thai simmer sauces... -- for the makings of a quick, easy, and tasty meal on nights when the last thing that I want to do is stand by the stove and cook dinner and take-out isn't the greatest option either.

It's true that many pre-made sauces have extra preservatives and salt added to them, which are usually essential in the commercial canning process to ensure taste is consistent over time or from batch to batch. I often check the labels and find the ones with the fewest ingredients (where possible). 9 out of 10 times, these ingredients are also things that I can also easily pronounce. ;)

This baked pasta dish is an alternative to a traditional baked ziti with marinara sauce. It starts off very similar to another baked pasta dish that I posted about in the past and recently tweaked to include an easy Alfredo sauce in place of the jarred sauce (although it's perfectly fine to still use jarred in the recipe.) Onions and garlic, an essential foundation of anything that's bound to taste great IMHO, are cooked along with frozen spinach and sun dried tomatoes. A quality vodka sauce (I used Victoria) and cheese are added to cooked pasta in a large skillet, then the whole thing is topped with more cheese and baked.

So, clearly the message here is this: baked pasta is extremely versatile and can never be bad. ;) Easy to make ahead and freeze or make the same day, a delicious meal is on the table in just an under an hour.

Pantry Raid: Cannellini Bean Stew with Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach

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First of all, Happy New Year! Dave and I spent the long weekend in New York City. And the first thing you're probably thinking in response to that might be, You're insane. What about the crowds?

Well, we weren't feeling brave enough to head into Times Square and battle the crowd of nearly one million people who came out to see the ball drop. And we definitely weren't interested in standing out in the bitter cold for hours, either.

We had a great weekend, though, filled with wonderful food and drinks to celebrate not just New Year's Eve, but our 1 year anniversary and my (early) birthday. Surprisingly, it wasn't too hard to get in or out of the city. For a holiday weekend, travel on all accounts went surprisingly smooth.

Sadly, I find myself now feeling ill with what I think might be a cold that was developing all last week in spite of all of my wishing that it wasn't. The rest of this week isn't getting any warmer, either. For my birthday on Saturday, it's going to be a blustery zero degrees and probably colder than that with the windchill, well into the negative single (and maybe double?) digits. Joy.

Days like these call for something hot and comforting to take off the chill. Cannellini beans (white beans), frozen spinach, and a mirepoix of fresh vegetables (onions, carrots, and celery) are always well-stocked in my pantry to make soups and other meals that are always favorites to eat and quickly assembled.

This recipe uses leftover red wine for added depth of flavor. If you don't have any or would prefer not to use it, it's fine to just add extra vegetable or chicken broth. Likewise, a Parmesan cheese rind is nice to add in here, but don't sweat it if you don't have one to spare.

P.S. I'm transitioning all of the recipes over to a new plug-in tool as of today, so this one and others may look different as I'm getting them moved over. Let me know what you think of the new look and functionality.

Pantry Raid: Tex-Mex Casserole

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It was a snowy week here in the Northeast and I'm not a cold weather-loving person. Looking at the snowfall is all well and good, but I prefer to stay inside and do that. It's not that I'm necessarily scared about driving in bad weather—been there, done that—but everything that goes with said weather adds up to be a royal pain.

Cleaning off the car and walking on ice both suck...

Letting the car windows defrost for what feels like an eternity before it is possible to see clearly to drive anywhere is annoying...

And don't get me started on what it feels like to be in wet clothes after getting caught in the snow or trudging through feet of it after it's drifted across the driveway.

Ugh, ugh, and ugh.

As far as I'm concerned, on an icky day nothing beats staying toasty in the house, crafting or playing board games with plenty of time for cooking or baking in between breaks. When nobody has to venture out to get anything for dinner, thanks to leftovers or a well-stocked pantry and freezer, it's even better.

This is a vegetarian main dish that includes pantry-staples like salsa, tomatoes, and beans, and takes advantage of the oven—which helps to warm up the house on a cold day, too. Feel free to add chicken or cooked ground meat to the vegetable mixture, if you want added protein, and season to a heat level of your liking. As a happy compromise when I'm cooking for most of my friends and family, I sautee jalapeños (seeds and ribs included) with the rest of the vegetables and serve more fresh ones served alongside as an option, since there are different heat preferences ranging from no heat at all to spicy as possible (with myself preferring something towards the upper end of the heat spectrum.)

Pantry Raid: Homestyle Chicken Soup

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Since I started eating meat again last year, I almost always keep a package of organic chicken thighs or breasts in my freezer for fresh, quick-to-assemble meals like curried chicken salad, chicken bacon ranch pasta—and this simple chicken soup.

Chicken or vegetable broth concentrate, like Better Than Bouillon brand, is a staple that I like to keep in the fridge for soups, sauces, and any other recipes that require stock. This way, I can use as much or as little as I need, without opening a full box of stock. The broth concentrate paste just gets scooped out of the jar and added to whatever I'm cooking along with water or other liquid. And as a bonus, it dissolves quicker when compared to bouillon cubes. Low sodium and organic varieties are available, too, which I usually try to buy but sometimes they are hard to find in stores.

Other alternatives to the broth concentrate are a good quality organic vegetable or chicken stock (Wegmans house brand is fairly low sodium) or, of course, homemade stock.

Pantry Raid: Mushroom Barley Soup

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Soup is often my go-to lunch since it's quick and easy to grab from a store or a work cafeteria. I always have a stockpile of some kind of soup or chili in the freezer for when I don't feel like cooking when I get home in the evening, too, which I thaw overnight in the refrigerator or, if I don't remember, quickly thaw in the microwave.

I make and eat soup year-round, even during the summer, but nothing beats the magical feeling of eating hot soup on a cold day. It just warms up your body and makes you feel instantly better—at least, for me it does.

This recipe for mushroom barley soup is one of my favorites to make in the crock pot and let cook overnight for dinner the next day. It is healthy and doesn't require a lot of ingredients, making it a perfect recipe for using up pantry and fridge staples.

Pantry Raid: Baked Spinach Rotini Alfredo

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Want to see more posts from Meal Prep Week? Search for #MealPrepWeek or see a recap of all of the posts here.

I came home hungry from work one day and was too lazy to make something from scratch. It happens, right? Rather than resulting to take-out, I peeked around in my pantry and freezer for pasta, cheese, and some spinach to make this tasty Alfredo pasta dish in about a half-hour or less.

It's perfectly OK to use a good, jarred alfredo sauce in this. I totally have in the past and did the little trick of adding onions and garlic to make it taste more like homemade, along with a little milk or cream to thin out the sauce (complete with adding it to the jar and giving the whole thing an ol' swish around to get the last of the sauce out.) If you have a little extra time, then alfredo sauce is definitely better to make and still requires just a few simple ingredients: garlic, butter, cream, and parmesan.

Pantry Raid: Make-and-Freeze Stir-fry Meals

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Want to see more posts from Meal Prep Week? Search for #MealPrepWeek or see a recap of all of the posts here.

Take-out is expensive and not really that great for you. Fortunately, it is really easy to make at home—especially with frozen ingredients that you can assemble, portion, and freeze ahead of time.

For the past few years I've made these make-and-freeze bagged meals. These are similar to ones that you can buy in the frozen section at the store, but customizable with the quantities and ingredients that you want to include. They're also cheaper and healthier, in many cases, since you know exactly what you're putting into them and can add the sauce later to your taste.

My two favorite meals to make are veggie stir-fry with soy chicken (or "fake chicken," as my family likes to call it) and shrimp with broccoli. I combine all of the ingredients, sans sauce, in a bowl and use a cup measure to portion into quart- or gallon-sized freezer bags, mark with the number of servings, and pop in the freezer. They're very simple to assemble, and even quicker to heat up and serve. Top simply with soy sauce or Sriracha, or with a sauce for something fancier.

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