Thursday, October 30, 2014

My 10 Must Have Pantry Staples

"Healthy eating is too expensive".  How many times have I heard this from friends, family and even customers?  Countless.  So when one of my readers asked me for a list of pantry staples to have on hand to make quick meals I needed to make sure that not only did I provide a pantry list and some recipes but I wanted to keep it inexpensive as well. So I came up with a list of 10 pantry items and 6 recipes for under $25. Here are my top 10 must haves and the recipes I use them in.

1) Canned beans - black, kidney, white or navy
2) Canned Tomatoes- Whole, diced or crushed
3) Whole Wheat Spaghetti
4) Taco seasoning pack
5) Salsa
6) Brown rice
7)Frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrot, lima bean and green bean mix
8) Frozen vegetable stir-fry - mushrooms, peppers, broccoli and onion
9) Liquid amino or low-sodium soy sauce
10) Whole Wheat Tortilla
First is my version of the Filipino noodle dish Pancit.  This is one of the first dishes I learned to make and served it a lot when I first got married.  This dish requires pasta, liquid amino or soy sauce, frozen stir-fry vegetables, garlic and onion.
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 medium onion sliced thin
1 pound of whole wheat spaghetti
1 16 oz. pack of frozen mixed vegetables
2 tablespoons of liquid amino
1 tablespoon of safflower oil
Boil pasta according to the directions on the package and reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside. Reheat pasta pot over high heat and add the olive oil, garlic and onion. Sauté until the onions are softened and opaque.  Next add the frozen stir fry vegetables and stir until heated through.  Add the cooked pasta, the pasta water and the liquid amino.  Mix well and check for seasoning.  Add more amino, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm or cold.

The next recipe comes from my daughter's love of Chinese fried rice.  For this recipe I use the frozen mixed vegetables, cooked brown rice and the liquid amino.

Landry's "Fried" Rice
2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
 2 Tablespoons plus more for seasoning Liquid Amino
Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Once hot add 2 tablespoons of liquid amino and the frozen mixed vegetables.  Stir the vegetables until coated with the amino and reduce the heat to medium and cover.  Let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes stirring once or twice to make sure they are not sticking.  If they are add some liquid amino or water to steam.  Taste the vegetables to make sure that they are heated through if not cover and let cook for 2 more minutes, if heated through add the brown rice and stir thoroughly.  Season to taste with more liquid amino and salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Who doesn't love Mexican food?  These next two recipes are my favorite next to Tacos. First up is a vegetable fajita using the taco seasoning, stir fried vegetables, whole wheat tortillas and the salsa.
Vegetable Fajitas
1 16 oz. pack of frozen stir fry vegetables
1 pack of taco seasoning
1 32 oz. jar of salsa
1 package of whole wheat tortillas
1 cup of water
In a large skillet sauté the frozen stir fry vegetables over high heat in 1/4 cup of water for 3 minutes.  Add the taco seasoning and the rest of the water bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer.  Let the vegetables simmer for 3-5 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed.  While the vegetables are cooking separate the tortillas and restack placing a paper towel between each of them and microwave for 15 seconds to warm.  Once vegetables are cooked spoon 3 tablespoons into each of the tortillas and top with salsa.
Enchiladas are a recipe that I like to serve when I have lots of people coming over.  They are easy to assemble and can be make ahead of time which is the best kind of food for company.  For these I use the tortillas, cooked brown rice, canned beans and the salsa

Bean and Rice Enchiladas
2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 canned of beans rinsed ( I use black)
1 jar of salsa
1 package of whole wheat tortillas

Preheat oven to 350. Layer the bottom of a casserole dish with 1/2 cup of salsa and set aside. In a large bowl add the cooked rice, beans and salsa and mix well.  Lay a tortilla flat and add 1/2 cup of the mixture, roll the tortilla up to close and place fold side down in the casserole dish.  repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.  Once all of the tortillas are in the dish spoon 1/2 cup of salsa over tortillas and add optional shredded cheese.  Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until cheese melts.

Another of my favorite make ahead to feed a crowd recipes is chili. This chili only has five ingredients and doesn't take all day before they can eat.  For this you will need the canned tomatoes, canned beans ( black and kidney), taco seasoning and brown rice

 Vegetarian Taco Chili
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 pack of taco seasoning
1 16 oz. can of black beans, rinsed
1 16 oz. can of red kidney beans, rinsed
2 cups of cooked brown rice
optional ingredients: frozen corn and bell peppers

Add the taco seasoning and diced tomatoes and bell peppers if using to a large sauce pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.  Add the beans and reduce heat to low and simmer for if using corn add it now.  Simmer for 30 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over 1/2 cup of brown rice.

The last recipe is a quick marinara sauce that is so easy my 10 year old daughter can make it.  All you need are canned tomatoes, sugar and fresh basil, garlic and whole wheat spaghetti.  We like to serve our Spaghetti marinara with steamed broccoli

10 Year Old's Marinara
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 can of diced tomatoes with basil
8 fresh basil leaves, shredded
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 pound of cooked whole wheat spaghetti

Add the canned tomatoes, garlic and sugar to a sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the fresh basil and stir.  Season with salt and pepper and spoon over pasta.  Serve hot.

So there you have it, some of my favorite pantry staples and just a few of the possibilities you can make quick easy and never again should you say that eating healthy is too expensive.  So now I ask you. 
 What's your favorite go to meal?