Thursday, September 24, 2009

"On Hand" Foods (Recipes Inside!)

A while ago, a fellow blogger commented about the recipes I post and asked if I had any particular grocery list that I could write about. Well, I buy our groceries around what we have. I go through our pantry, refrigerator, and freezer prior to going to the grocery store and then I plan meals around what we have. That way, I can make full course meals and already have everything on hand. I also try to make things that are easy for Talan to handle as well.

When Poppa Morgan and I were moving out of the apartment we lived in prior to moving into our house, it absolutely disgusted me how much food that we threw away. So many meats and other frozen foods that we didn't even know that we had, piled on top of each other. They were too freezer burnt to give to anyone. We realized that we used to buy way too much. Now, we buy as needed. I look in the freezer and say "Okay, we have hamburger meat. What would I like to make this week using hamburger meat?" or "I'm having a craving for grilled chicken. What do I have that would compliment it at home?" My husband is Italian (his father is only part Italian but his mother is a full blooded Sicilian) and his mother and grandmother have taught him a lot of recipes and he does a lot of cooking too, so I let him jot down things he might need as well. So, that's how we do our grocery list.

BUT .....

there are a few foods that I ALWAYS keep on hand ... ALWAYS! I can do quick and easy snacks or lunches with these foods. What are they you ask?

- Whole wheat tortillas and shredded cheese. If ever you want a quick and easy snack, a quesadilla is the way to go. Sprinkle some cheese on top of a tortilla, place another tortilla on top, put a little oil in a skillet, take a spatula and place the tortilla in the pan. When the cheese begins to melt, flip the quesadilla over. Once it is lightly browned on both sides OR when the cheese has completely melted, bon apetit! Now, you can always jazz up quesadillas. Here is a recipe that I found on the Weelicious website, which is where I get quite a few of my recipes, as they are child friendly and very healthy.

Cheesy Quesadillas with Apple & Honey (serves 4)

4 Whole Wheat or Spelt Tortillas
1 1/3 Cup Cheddar Cheese, divided
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled and sliced thin, divided OR 1/3 Cup Apple Sauce

1. Place 1/4 of the apple slices (or 2 tbsp apple sauce) on a tortilla, top with 1/3 cup of the cheese and a drizzle of honey.
2. Cover with another tortilla.
3. Slide the tortilla “sandwich” into a saute pan over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes on each side.
4. Cut into wedges.
5. Serve.

Talan absolutely LOVES the cheesy honey and apple quesadillas and at first, I didn't think that I would like them, but they are really good.

Of course, you don't have to just make quesadillas with tortillas and shredded cheese. I use shredded cheese in quite a few dishes, another reason I keep it on hand. I also like to make turkey pinwheels as a quick and easy snack. Some Philadelphia vegetable cream cheese spread, a few slices of turkey sandwich meat (real turkey will work too), some spinach leaves, all nicely laid out on a tortilla. Roll the tortilla up tight and cut into small pieces. Great for snacks and as appetizers for parties.

- Lettuce. Whether you buy it by the head or in a bag pre-shredded, it's a good idea to keep lettuce on hand. I'm a salad-holic. I absolutely LOVE to eat salads. Lettuce goes pretty fast in our home. The bad part is, I load my salads with everything that doesn't make them very healthy, but at least I'm eating salad! My husband makes a mean Antipasto salad. Well how does he make it you ask? Here ya go ....

Antipasto Salad

2 Heads of Lettuce
1 cup kidney beans
1 cup garbanzo beans
Salami (cubed)
Provolone Cheese (shredded or cubed)
2 Tomatoes
Black olives (optional)

1. Rinse your kidney beans and garbanzo beans and pat them dry.
2. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Serve with a red wine vinaigrette dressing (Poppa Morgan makes his).

Now, this recipe is a good example of something to make to your liking. You can always add to or take away from the ingredients for this salad. I don't like olives, so Poppa Morgan makes the salad without them and just adds them to his salad once he has it on his plate. For the lettuce, he uses one head of iceberg and one head of purple lettuce, and he uses a red onion. He says it makes the salad prettier! My mother in law has actually used whole string beans as one of her beans in this salad before, and she also uses artichoke hearts, so there are many ways to make it. There are a lot of red wine vinegar dressing recipes online. It's very easy to make.

- Pasta. This is my third biggie to have on hand. I always buy a few different shapes to change things up visually here and there. Here is a quickie recipe for some Parmesan pasta.

Parmesan Pasta

1-8 oz box of pasta
1 clove of garlic (minced)
1/4 cup of olive oil (you can also use butter or margarine, still 1/4 cup)
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Black pepper (optional)

1. Cook pasta as directed on package.
2. When pasta is about five minutes away from being done, pour olive oil in a small skillet. Then place the garlic in the oil, and saute until the garlic is golden and tender (be careful not to burn the garlic as it burns easily).
3. Drain pasta well.
4. Pour cooked oil over pasta and toss.
5. Pour Parmesan cheese in with pasta and toss well. Add black pepper (if desired), give one last toss, and enjoy!

This is one of the simplest recipes. It takes me about 15 minutes or so to make this dish. A bonus is that you can add so many things to it if you desire. One thing I like to do, when I'm up to it, is slice a tomato and throw it in. Parmesan cheese is another one of my addictions, so I like to put a little extra in for myself. Note that I said black pepper was optional but I didn't mention salt. That's because Parmesan is a pretty salty cheese, no salt necessary. Parsley is really good in this dish too. Poppa Morgan likes spice so he adds a bit of red pepper flakes to his.

Parmesan cheese is another one that I keep on hand but I won't add it into the main list as many people have different tastes when it comes to cheeses. Parmesan happens to be my favorite. Poppa Morgan's favorite is Asiago. But, depending on what type of cheese you like, you may want to try a fun snack called cheese crisps. They work well with Parmesan I know ... I haven't tried them with any other cheese, though.

Cheese Crisps

1 Wedge Parmesan Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Shred the Parmesan wedge on a grater (use the side with the largest holes).
3. Place 2 tbsp of the shredded cheese on a parchment lined cookie sheet and flatten the cheese with your finger tips into a 3 inch circle.
4. Bake for 7-8 minutes.
5. As soon as they come out of the oven remove with a thin spatula to an upside down cup or ramekin.

Cheese crisps are such a neat snack. I actually made them as an appetizer once and everyone thought they were something that I had found at a store. You can also use the packaged Parmesan, like Kraft Parmesan cheese, to do these, though you can't make them as big.

Those are the main food items that I keep on hand. You would be amazed at how many different snacks, lunches, and dinners you can make with just these items alone, given that you have some complimentary items on hand. Plus, the items are very kid friendly. Talan has had all of the recipes mentioned above and by the way he eats his little heart out, I don't think he has any complaints. Until next time, happy cooking!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the recipe post. I made the quesadillas with apple and honey for my 10 year old daughter and she loved them. It is a new favorite.