Pantry Raid: Spinach-Tomato Alfredo with Rotini

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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, a jarred sauce, cheese, and some veggies to make this tasty Alfredo pasta dish in about a half-hour or less.

Here’s how I make it. To make things easy, it starts with a good, jarred pasta sauce.

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

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. Here’s how I make them.

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Pantry Raid: Curried Chicken Salad

Shortly after I started eating meat more regularly, I saw Ina Garten make curried chicken salad on an episode of her show, Barefoot Contessa. My immediate thought was that it looked good (and, duh, her food always looks amazing) and sounded different, but I didn’t immediately put it at the top of my “recipes to try” list, and here’s why.

I took a big pause at the idea of curry and chutney mixed together, really skeptical about how two strong-tasting ingredients like that would taste when mixed together. Also, I was never a big fan of traditional chicken salad. Growing up, my dad and I would go out for sandwiches for lunch on a regular basis. Whenever I ordered chicken salad from a nearby deli or restaurant, it often tasted bland and mushy, with tiny pieces of chicken and not enough crunch from celery and onion to make up for the amount of mayo put in the salad.

Knowing that Ina has rarely led me astray, I gave the recipe a try and was soon obsessed. For a while I made this salad at least once a week, without fail, to bring to work for lunch. It has a totally unexpected flavor on account of the chutney and curry, which do taste good together after all. It’s creamy without tasting like eating a spoonful of mayo, and super-crunchy from the celery and cashews, one of my favorite nuts.

Ina’s Curried Chicken Salad has become a pantry staple recipe; I keep the ingredients on-hand for whenever I’m in the mood to make a quick dinner or lunch for work. Using the original recipe as a guide, here are a few things that I like to adjust when I make it.

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Pantry Raid: Fig, Toffee, and Walnut Granola

I was craving something sweet one afternoon when I thought back to an episode of Barefoot Contessa that I watched a couple of weeks ago. Ina Garten made homemade granola bars for an episode about breakfast. Her bars featured apricots, cranberries, coconut, and slivered almonds along with oats and a base made out of sugar and honey.

I was inspired to take a look at what I had on-hand in my own kitchen to make a batch of my own. I always have pantry basics, like oats and dried fruit, on-hand for baking. What I ended up making was something that, for granola standards, was really, really tasty.

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