Monday, May 8, 2006

My Top 10 Pantry Staples.


Nothing exciting on the dinner report tonight. Just a soup and salad kind of night I guess. I was thinking about what I could post on today, and nothing really called to me. It's Monday, the beginning of the week, and it's been a nice quiet day. Zander and I really needed a day to just stay home and spend together, so it's been pretty nice. Tonight for our TV viewing pleasure we have The Apprentice and a day I've been dreading, the finale of 7th Heaven. I love that show. There are rumors that it has a slim chance of coming back next fall, but as far as we all know, tonight is the night. I will actually record that tonight and watch tomorrow at nap time, along with my guilty pleasure from tonight- Everwood. Another show on the potential WB/UPN merging into CW shopping block. But it has potential. In fact, rumor is that before this season is over one regular will lose their life- and there's only this week and next, so we'll see...

Anyway, for tonight I thought I'd pretend to be a real chef. Almost every cookbook I own starts with some kind of list. Some list of your pantry must haves, those things that are always in you rrefrigerator or freezer. So here I have compiled my list of my top 10 must-haves for my pantry. They are in no particular order.

1. Muir Glen Pizza Sauce. It's sweet, it's sassy, and it's very good. Homemade pizza is always possible if you have good pizza sauce on hand.

2. Garlic. This should be a no-brainer. I always have several bulbs of garlic in my pantry. Please, no pre-chopped garlic here.

3. Craisins. These guys are good for everything. The kids like to eat them straight up, they are great for baking quick breads or cookies, and they also add a great twist to salads. Move over raisins, we prefer the dried cranberries here.

4. Frozen tortellini or ravioli. Unexpected company? Stuffed pastas are always impressive and delicious. Whether they are tossed in marinara, pesto, or a simple garlic butter, everyone loves stuffed pasta. A little goes a long way with these guys.

5. Bottled Pesto. I have really come to love this stuff. Sure, homemade is good, but when you can buy a jar to have on hand at anytime- I love it! It takes ho-hum things and turns them into WOW things. Add some to a pasta salad or mix it up with some shredded cheese and you have a quick hot dip. Marinate a chicken breast and you have great beginning to a chicken salad.

6. Chocolate chips. These are a no-brainer on so many levels. They are good for munching when that chocolate demon strikes. They can be used to make cakes, cookies, brownies, etc. But what they're also good for is that extra wow factor. Melt some chocolate chips with some cream and you have an impressive topping for ice cream or a plain slice of pound cake. They are so versatile, they even jazz up a good pot of chili!

7. Plain Yogurt. Whether I've made it myself or bought some from the store, I really love plain yogurt. I like to eat it straight up, but if I'm in the mood I can stir in a spoonful of jam or preserves to custome mix a flavor. It also works as a double for sour cream, making great baked potatoes, and oh my mash up an avocado with some yogurt and salsa and I'm in heaven. And how can we forget Tzatziki and Raita! Two of my favorite condiments are made from plain yogurt. And that doesn't even scratch the possibilities as yogurt can also become yogurt cheese or the base for a smoothie.

8. Citrus fruit. A little goes a long way. I try to always have lemons and limes on hand. You never know when a squeeze of fresh juice is going to push a dish into perfection. And the zest! That zest perks up everything from marinades to icings, or acts a garnish for a perfect margarita. Yum!

9. Tortillas. Plain flour tortillas make my mouth happy. Whether I'm using them as a wrap at lunch time, or rolling up some enchilada fillings, the tortilla can be filled with literally anything. They can also be cut into chips and baked for a way healthier alternative to store ought tortilla chips. One of my favorite applications for tortillas is to smear peanut butter on one, cover with banana slices, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips, and bake it for about 10 minutes. Makes a very yummy dessert style pizza.

10. Cheese. Many cheeses. I almost always have a cheddar, blue, and a mozarella on hand, but most often I have up to 10 different varieties of cheese in my fridge at all times. What can I say, we love our cheese. Whether it is sliced up to eat with fruit or used as a pizza topping, cheese is always great. Irish cheddar makes the single best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever eaten. Feta cheese makes a so-so shrimp dish a spectacular shrimp dish. And a great gorgonzola cream is the ultimate sin for topping a grilled tenderloin. Cheese. It's what's for dinner.

1 comment:

AK said...

0 for 10 -- not a single match -- yisn't that funny?!!