Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Staples...(not the office supply store) and why they're important

I think the worst thing in the world is to start making something and realize you're out of one of the "key ingredients". This happens to me less and less now, but today is one of "those days". I'd wanted to make tortellini for dinner and I've found that I am lacking in the sauce department. So, after blogging, I will be on the hunt for a sauce recipe. I refuse to go out to the store. This is why having a good stash of staples is SO important, because a run to the store to pick up that one lacking ingredient can result in a $30 tab. I hate that. Also, having a good staple stash means that you can then pull from leftovers in your fridge to make dinner. Besides sauces (which, as I have mentioned, I am OUT of) here is a list of things I try to have on hand at all times:

A bag of frozen tortellini
Bag of frozen ravioli
bacon or pancetta (italian style bacon, however it has not been "cured"). I freeze it if I don't think I'm going to be using it anytime soon
at least one can of "Ro-tel" tomatoes
VIGO brand yellow rice
tortillas (usually flour ones---you can do SO much with a tortilla, it can substitute for flat bread in a wrap, cut into small pieces and drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and then baked at about 350 for 8 or 9 minutes and "voila" you have taco chips!)
Bisquick baking mix
envelope of taco seasoning
chopped walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, etc.
potatoes
fresh tomatoes (buy the "roma" tomatoes, they're less juicy and they stay fresh longer)
a red onion and a vidalia onion
head of garlic
jar of brown mushroom gravy (I add this to my roasts when I put them into the crock pot and it makes them SUPER juicy)
Can of cheddar cheese soup (great topping for almost anything; meatloaf, meatballs, chicken etc, or add to spaghetti sauce for baked ziti and it makes it super cheese-y, add a can of rotel tomatoes to it and heat---don't dilute, and it's great for dipping tortilla chips in)
sour cream
heavy whipping cream
mascarpone cheese (not easy to find, but invaluable in the kitchen)
ricotta cheese
mozzarella cheese, brick and grated
brick of parmesan cheese
grated cheddar cheese

From the above list, I can make a host of meals happen. Obviously today, I'm in a bit of a pickle since my sauce base isn't here, but I'm going to solve this issue somehow (topic for future blog...hmmmmm). The other night, when it was just Dan and I, I pulled from my staple cupboard and made the following dinner, utilizing leftover asparagus, crabmeat and mushrooms:

Seafood Alfredo Tortellini

1 jar alfredo sauce
2-3 c. frozen tortellini (I usually get the cheese tortellini)
1 small bunch of asparagus spears, fresh
1/2 c. of crab meat
1 T. butter
1 clove of garlic finely diced
1/2 c. of sliced mushrooms, fresh
1 small (or 1/2 medium) onion finely diced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 to 1/2 c. of grated parmesan cheese
small sprigs of basil (optional, for garnish)

Steam the fresh asparagus (remember to put immediately into an ice bath to stop cooking and preserve greenness). Cook the tortellini according to package directions and drain. In a saute pan, melt the butter and then add the onion and the garlic. When the onions are soft (not browned) add the mushrooms, cook until soft. Add the asparagus spears and then add the sauce...heat through. Pour over the tortellini and add the lemon juice. Toss. Top with the freshly grated parmesan and crab meat and then garnish with some sprigs of fresh basil.

Obviously you could leave out the crab meat if you don't like it (but, seriously why don't you? it's DELICIOUS!!) or even subsitute diced chicken instead. Also, instead of asparagus you can use broccoli, peas, carrots, virtually any vegetable you may have left over.

Today's food quote: "There is no love sincerer than the love of food" George Bernard Shaw, Irish playright

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