Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Ultimate Pantry

Hey there!

So a quick snapshot of our life over the past few months: The move from Chicago to Michigan was a complete success. Working from home is more than I dreamed it would be, and it affords me SO much more time for family, friends and...COOKING!!! I love being able to log out at five and walk into the kitchen.

Only thing is, we're temporarily living with my in-laws, which is fine! -- but my kitchen is packed away. However--that doesn't stop me from cooking!

Today, I don't have an original recipe to share, but I do want to share a few things I've learned over the past month about having a well-stocked pantry. We have five adults living in the house, and we go through a LOT of food. And with the best grocery store a half hour away, you really have to plan ahead when you go shopping.

Following are a few must haves that I find myself picking up on every trip. With these items on hand and some yummy lean proteins, you can whip up pretty much anything!! (And note: I most likely will update this list as I go along...)

  • Fresh Fruits & Veggies
    • Bananas (I swear, my husband's a monkey -- we go through two huge bunches a week)
    • Bell Peppers
    • Berries (any kind--great for crumbles with ice cream--or smoothies!)
    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Cucumbers
    • Garlic (LOVE)
    • Jalapenos
    • Lemons (essential for making your own dressings AND for yummy hummus)
    • Limes (a staple in Mexican cooking)
    • New Potatoes
    • Oranges
    • Pineapple
    • Romaine Lettuce
    • Spinach
    • Strawberries
    • Tomatoes (beefsteak, roma, grape/cherry)--I love roasting grape tomatoes for pasta salads...
    • Yellow & Red Onions
  • Fresh Herbs
    • Basil (can you say "b-r-u-s-c-h-e-t-t-a?")
    • Chives 
    • Cilantro
    • Dill 
    • Old Bay (crab cakes in mind...)
    • Oregano (easy chicken marinade: oregano, evoo & lemon juice)
    • Parsley
    • Rosemary
  • Dairy
    • Agave Nectar (skinny girl margaritas anyone?)
    • Aged Sharp Cheddar (just for snacking! my weakness)
    • Cottage Cheese (goes well with pineapple)
    • Eggs
    • Fresh Mozzarella in Water (caprese salads...mmmmm)
    • Grated Parmesan
    • Half & Half
    • Light Sour Cream
    • Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
    • Pepper Jack (great for sandwiches and burgers)
    • Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
    • Reduced fat shredded anything for salads
    • Smart Balance
    • Unsalted Butter
  • Sauces/Spreads
    • Balsamic Dressing (Paul Newman is a great one)
    • Bolthouse Farms Creamy Yogurt Ranch Dressing (healthiest AND tastiest ranch I've found--look for it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store)
    • Bull's-Eye BBQ Sauce (no high fructose corn syrup here!)
    • Dijon Mustard
    • Hoisin Sauce
    • Horseradish
    • Ketchup
    • Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
    • Natural Peanut Butter
    • Reduced Fat Mayo with Olive Oil
    • Sriracha Sauce (or as I call it, Sir Ha-Cha-Cha!)
    • Tabasco
    • Thai Chili Sauce 
    • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Canned Goods
    • Black Beans
    • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (for a smoky, spicy flavor)
    • Diced Tomatoes
    • Dill Pickles
    • Garbanzo Beans (HUMMUS!!)
    • Hot Banana Peppers
    • Kidney Beans
    • Low-Sodium Broths
    • Manwich (what can I say...I love sloppy joes...with some extra jalapeno kick)
    • Stewed Tomatoes
    • Tomato Sauce
  • Dry Goods
    • Almond Accents (amazing, nutritious addition to a salad)
    • Brown Sugar
    • Flour
    • Sugar
    • Whole Grain Spaghetti, Penne, Rotini
    • Whole Grain Orzo
    • Whole Grain Panko
  • Dry Spices
    • Basil
    • Bay Leaves
    • Cayenne Pepper
    • Chili Powder (LOTS)
    • Cinnamon
    • Cumin
    • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
    • Garlic Bread Sprinkle (McCormick, if you can find it -- easy spread on toast with butter -- want some now!)
    • Garlic Powder
    • Ginger
    • Montreal Chicken
    • Montreal Steak 
    • Oregano
    • Paprika
    • Red Pepper Flakes (easy way to up the heat)
    • Sea Salt
    • Thyme
  • Vinegars/Oils
    • Apple Cider Vinegar
    • Canola Oil
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (evoo)
    • High Heat Cooking Spray (such as sunflower oil, grape seed oil, etc.)
    • Olive Oil Cooking Spray
    • Vegetable Oil
    • White & Red Wine Vinegar

By keeping your pantry well stocked, you should easily be able to cook up some delicious stuff! One of my faves is a sweet onion dip -- great with some kettle potato chips. Courtesy of Martha Stewart. Served it up at Steph's (aka place a month or so ago, and then it was a hit again with the fam. It's a keeper!! Eat up and enjoy!

Sweet Onion Dip
Makes 2 cups.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 Vidalia onions (1 pound total), finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 ounces reduced-fat bar cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
Potato chips, for serving

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onions; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, combine onions, sour cream, cream cheese, vinegar, and chives; season with salt and pepper. Chill dip until slightly thickened, about 1 hour; or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Serve with chips.

1 comment:

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