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.)
Posts tagged as “pantry raid”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. [wprm-recipe-jump text="Get the recipe below."]