Tag Archives: pantry staples

bowl of stew with sourdough toast

One Humble Can of Tomatoes, Six Different Meals to Remember

As the weather turns cooler and we spend more time cozied up indoors, we often turn to our pantry to see what simple recipe we can whip up for a weeknight dinner. From pureed to chopped to strained, tomatoes are something I always have on hand as they can be used in endless ways. Here are six recipes you can make with a humble can of tomatoes.

Shakshuka

Shakshuka is a tomato-based dish that consists of poaching eggs in a spicy sauce. You can make it in 30 minutes with just a few simple ingredients. Start by sautéing garlic, diced onion and sliced red bell pepper in olive oil. Add your chopped tomatoes, paprika, cumin and chili powder. Let simmer for 10 minutes before cracking in the eggs. Cover with lid and poach the eggs until the whites are cooked, but yolk is soft. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese and fresh parsley.
shakshuka in a cast iron pan

Sloppy Joes

Have a can of tomatoes and ground meat in the freezer? Grab yourself some fresh buns and make sloppy Joes! A childhood favourite of mine, sloppy Joes consist of simmering together ground meat — beef, pork, chicken or turkey — as well as tomato sauce, onion, garlic, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. You can sneak in a few extra veggies if you’d like too. Serve the mixture on a bun.

bun with sloppy Joe mixture on black plate

White Bean and Tomato Stew

This stew consists of simmering white beans in tomato sauce, along with chicken stock, garlic, onion, celery, thyme and red pepper flakes. It is loaded with flavour and can be served a number of ways: over steamed rice, on sourdough toast or with pasta simmered right into the stew. Serve with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

bowl of stew with toast

Pizza Sauce

One of the most popular uses for canned tomatoes is homemade pizza sauce. We make a lot of pizza at home — and I prefer homemade sauce to the store-bought option, as you can control the flavours. It is so easy to make and requires no heating. Just stir together the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. You’ll be wondering why you didn’t always make your own sauce.

two slices of square pizza on a black plate

Salsa

Almost as easy as pizza sauce, you can turn a can of tomatoes into fresh restaurant style salsa. To a food processor: add tomatoes, green pepper (optional), fresh cilantro, onion, jalapeno, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Pulse until the salsa is as smooth or chunky as you prefer. Open a bag of tortilla chips and dip, dip, dip away!

grey plate with tortilla chips and bowl of homemade salsa

Chili

The perfect hearty meal on a brisk fall or snowy winter day is — hands down — chili! You can add pretty much anything you like, be it lots of vegetables or just beans, ground meat, tomatoes and spices (chili powder, paprika, cumin and coriander). I like to include onions, celery, carrots and red and green peppers in my classic chili recipe.

chili in a white bowl

Want to cook with more pantry staples? Here is one humble can of chickpeas, six different ways and one can of black beans, six ways.

How to Cook for One Without Eating the Same Meal All Week Long

No matter how much you love to create in the kitchen, cooking for one can be a bit of a challenge. It can be hard to figure out how to shop and cook for yourself without eating the same darned thing until you’re blue in the face (or until your leftovers are green with mould). Sometimes it seems that creating a satisfying meal for one is more work than it’s worth. When I lived solo I certainly reached for a few pickles and scoops of hummus on occasion. And sure, sometimes a dinner like that is exactly what you need. But if you’re looking for more than a snack plate for dinner, here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years to help make things easier – not to mention more fun.

Plan Some Meals

Planning out all your meals isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some semblance of meal planning that works for you. Are you the kind of person who loves slotting in every single meal for the entire week on a giant chalkboard wall and sticking to a plan? (Guilty!). Go for it. Does that seem like way too much work? No problem. Start by scribbling down a few meals that you want to cook in a notebook or on your phone and then go with the flow each day. The important part is to think about what you’re going to eat in advance, so that you’re not blankly staring into the fridge come 5 p.m. and turning to delivery instead.

Related: 9 Easy Weekly Meal Plan Ideas That Really Work

Consider Your Schedule

Figuring out the kinds of food you plan on eating isn’t the only part of meal planning — deciding what you eat depends on how busy you are too. When I was living solo and I knew I’d be swamped with work, I’d roast up a chicken and some grains on Sunday and repurpose that all week long — into salads, sandwiches, tacos, etc. On the opposite side, if I had a lighter week, I’d plan to simmer up some soups, casseroles or other larger dishes that I could then portion out and freeze for later. Knowing your schedule is an essential component when it comes to successfully cooking for one.

Get the recipe for Ina Garten’s Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken

Shop Accordingly

It may seem obvious, but when you’re cooking for one you’ve got to shop for one too. Otherwise your fridge will start to rot from the inside out. Shopping for one means not giving into several fresh fruits and veggies and sticking to a few you know that you’ll consume instead. It means buying the two-pack of chicken breasts instead of the value size (unless you plan on dividing and freezing). And it means making friends with the people at the deli, meat and cheese counters, because odds are you can get a small portion of what you want from one of those helpful folks (hi Catherine!). Last but not least, always try to have a list and never shop hungry, because that’s when impulse or bulk buying is always at its worst.

Stock up on Staples

Just because you need to be careful about how much fresh food that you select, doesn’t mean you can’t stock up on things that will keep for a long time in the fridge or cupboard. Eggs have a long shelf life and I love how ridiculously versatile they are. Oatmeal and grains can last me for months and canned beans are the perfect thing for a last-minute salad, chili or taco night. Bulk stores are great too because you can pick up the portions you need for basically the same price or cheaper than at the regular grocery store, so maybe consider investing in some airtight containers and giving your pantry a makeover. For me, when I have more options to choose from, I always feel less bored with what I’m eating and making for myself.


Get the recipe for Pinto Bean Salsa Salad

Related: Budget-Friendly Pantry Staples You Should Always Have on Hand

Halve Your Recipes

One of the most frustrating things about cooking for one is when you come across a recipe you want to try out and realize that it inevitably serves two to four people. Because no thanks, I don’t want to gamble on having to eat a new dish that I might not like for the next four days. Luckily, it’s a problem that can be easily solved by learning to halve your recipes. Know your basics (there are three teaspoons in a tablespoon; a quarter cup has four tablespoons) or do what I do and turn to good old Google when you’re stuck. Need to halve an egg? Put it in a container, whisk it, and save half for later.

Make Meals You Can Repurpose

I seriously love roasting up whole chickens. You get more bang for your buck, they’re delicious and most importantly, they can be transformed into so many other dishes throughout the rest of the week. Tacos, power bowls, salads, a chicken pasta, soup… the possibilities are endless. Think beyond chicken though. Cook up a batch of quinoa that can be transformed into bowls, patties or even sushi, roast some beef for a variety of meaty dishes or steam up a big bowl of rice to be made into some creative mains… or even dessert.


Get the recipe for The Pioneer Woman’s Red Wine Pot Roast

Organize the Freezer

The freezer is your friend, especially when you’re trying to portion out meals for one. Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and peppers can be saved for later by washing, cutting and flash-freezing them on a parchment-lined baking sheet before transferring them to a freezer-friendly container or bag. Herbs can be saved by dividing them into ice-cube trays and freezing them with some water or stock. And anytime you make a soup, casserole or other freezer-friendly offering, portion it out and freeze it so that you can have your own “microwave dinners” whenever you need something quick. I’ve learned that this works well for desserts too. Divide and freeze pies and cakes or whip up some cookie dough and portion it out onto trays. You can flash-freeze and store them, so that you can pop a cookie or two into the oven whenever the sugar craving strikes.

Related: 35 Easy Freezer Meals You Can Make Ahead (And Devour Later)

Have a Go-To List of Single-Serving Recipes

We’ve agreed that the two to four serving recipe struggle is real, but that doesn’t mean all recipes are the single-person’s devil. Mug cakes are a delicious way to microwave your way to a quick dessert after a long day, for example. Or a quick omelette with a salad is the perfect mid-week meal. Take note of any recipes you make (bookmark them, print them out or file them away in the old memory bank if you prefer) and refer back to them when you need a little inspiration.

Find a Support System and Share

One of the less glamorous parts about eating and cooking alone is that you can never quite participate in bulk purchases, family meal packages or organic produce boxes. The good news is that you probably aren’t the only one feeling like you’re missing out on those deals, so why not grab a fellow singleton and go in together to reap those rewards? Splitting a grocery bill or bulk shop with a friend, family member or even roommate lets you fill your fridge and pantry with a wider variety of options of things that (hopefully!) won’t go bad, while keeping you on track with your budget and dietary needs.

Related: How to Host a Successful Freezer Meal Swap

Let Go of the Idea of “Traditional” Meals

Cooking for one doesn’t need to be bleak, but it also doesn’t have to be fancy. Before you feel guilty for not breaking out the fine china or cloth napkins for yourself, remember that any balanced diet is a good diet. So if that means grilled cheese for dinner or a simple salad, you do you. In my days of cooking for one I was just as likely to whip myself up a New York striploin or master a new recipe as I was to throw a tuna melt in the toaster oven or put a hunk of cheese and a few veggies on a plate and call it a day. That’s the beauty of cooking for one: anything goes. By embracing that mentality, then suddenly all of the pressure is off. And for me, that not only means that I have more fun in the kitchen, but I’m more likely to try new things too.

Need more inspiration? Here are 40 quick and easy meals for one.

You Can Make These Mixed Berry Galettes With Easy Pantry and Fridge Staples

Galettes were my introduction to the world of pastry and are still one of my favourite things to make. These single-crust pies are so easy that most kids can make them with very little supervision — and the fact that they are supposed to look rustic is a bonus for those who don’t feel confident making a pie crust. The possibilities for filling a fruit galette are endless, but I’ve chosen mixed berries because they bake up so well and are so pretty. Added bonus? You can bake these galettes with fridge and pantry staples you likely already have on hand: frozen berries are great and the pastry just uses a few items. Once you’ve made one galette, you’ll be hooked!

Mixed Berry Galettes

Prep Time: 50 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Servings: 8 galettes

Ingredients:

Pastry
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp heavy (35%) cream

Filling
2 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen) such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (not needed if you use frozen berries)
1 Tbsp lemon zest (1 lemon)

Assembly
1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

To Serve
Vanilla ice cream or Chantilly cream (optional)

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Most Popular Cake and Pie Recipes

Directions:

1. Whisk the flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and using your fingertips, lightly rub the butter into the flour until it resembles large breadcrumbs with some pieces the size of small peas. You can also use a pastry blender for this job. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix the egg into the flour until they are completely combined.

2. Add the cream and mix until the dough is firm enough to form a ball when you press the mixture together with your fingers. It might be a little crumbly, but form the dough into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.

3. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 3 days, in the fridge. You can also freeze the dough, tightly wrapped in plastic, for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before you roll and bake.

Related: How to Make The Perfect Banana Bread Every Time (Plus Freezing Tips and a Recipe!)

4. Combine the berries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice (if using) and zest in a small bowl. Stir to coat the berries thoroughly and set aside.

Tip: If your berries are quite large, you can cut them in half. If you do that, you might not need as much of the lemon juice, since cut berries may give off more juice.

5. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

6. Divide the pastry into eight pieces and roll each piece out to a rough circle about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter. If necessary, trim the rolled-out shapes with a pizza cutter so they are more or less round. Place the circles of dough on the parchment-lined baking trays. They should not be touching.

Related: Can I Freeze This? How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More

7. Use a ¼ cup measure to divide the berry mixture evenly between the dough circles. Place the berries in the centre of the dough and use the bottom of the measuring cup to flatten them slightly. You should leave a border of about 1 ½ inches around the edge.

8. Working with one circle at a time, fold the uncovered edges of dough up and around the filling, working your way around the circle. You’ll end up with pleated edges that are a little rough and you might need to trim some uneven parts to ensure you don’t end up with a thick area of just crust.

9. Brush the edges of each galette with a little egg wash and sprinkle the pastry with sugar.

10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the berries are cooked. Remove from the oven and place the galettes on wire racks to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or Chantilly cream.

This is an excellent entry-level dessert for novice bakers. Since the dough circles won’t be perfect and the berries will leak some juice out onto the baking  trays, they will all look a little mismatched, but they are meant to be “rustic” (this is what I call anything I make that doesn’t turn out perfectly!). Whenever I make these with my boys’ cooking club, nobody cares how they look — the boys think they are delicious and the parents are impressed their child made pastry from scratch!

Excerpted from In the French Kitchen with Kids by Mardi Michels. Copyright © 2018 Mardi Michels. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved. Photographs Copyright © Kyla Zanardi.

Not Your Average Tuna Salad: Refresh Pantry Cooking With This Oh-So Garlicky Dish

As many of us begin our venture in pantry-style cooking, two go-to canned items are always tuna and beans. But, instead of a lackluster tuna or bean salad, we paired them together and created something that’s vibrant, fresh and oh-so garlicky. You’ll already have the majority of these ingredients in your pantry or fridge, and if you’re missing something and can’t get your hands on it, swap it for what you do have, or simply leave it out. The garlic chips are really the star of this dish anyways, and every kitchen has a supply of garlic, right?

Tuna Salad With Tomatoes, Basil, Beans, Kale and Garlic Chips

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 can tuna, drained
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
5 cherry tomatoes, halved or ¾ cup chopped tomato
½ cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 small shallot or ¼ red or yellow onion, slivered
3 cups kale, chopped
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp sea salt
A few cracks of pepper


Directions:

1. In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil over medium. Add in the garlic slices and toss around until they become brown and crisp, this will only take a few minutes.

2. Place them on a towel to drain some of the oil and dry up. You can save the oil that’s left in the pan and use it for dressings or sauces.

Related: 3-Ingredient Salad Dressing Combos That Will Save Your Lunch and Dinner

3. Put the tuna, chickpeas, tomatoes, basil, shallots and kale into a bowl.

4. Whisk together 2 Tbsp of oil, along with the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pour over the ingredients in the bowl.

5. Top with garlic chips and enjoy.

Cooking with more pantry staples lately? Try these creative canned salmon recipes and macaroni dish ideas.

This Easy Recipe for Soft Rolls Uses Less Than 10 Pantry Ingredients!

There’s nothing quite like breaking into freshly baked bread, beautifully golden on the outside, warm and pillowy on the inside. What’s even more rewarding is making it yourself! These soft dinner rolls are incredibly easy to make and require just a few ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. I promise once you try these Baking Therapy soft rolls, it’ll be your go-to bread recipe time and time again.

Easy Soft Dinner Rolls

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 45 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 80 minutes
Servings: 2 x 6-inch round loaves

Ingredients:

Dough
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 ½ Tbsp instant yeast
2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (or any neutral oil)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 ½ tsp kosher salt

Egg Wash
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk

Pinch flaky salt (optional)

Related: No-Knead Olive Za’atar Bread That Looks Fancy (But is Super Easy)

Directions:

1. In a stand-mixer bowl with the hook attachment, mix together the milk and instant yeast. (If you’re using active dry yeast, make sure to proof in warm milk at about 100°F to 110°F). Add the sifted flour, oil, sugar, egg and salt. Mix on low speed, until the dough pulls away from the bowl, about 5-7 minutes.

2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, cover with the bowl and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. The dough will rise to about two to three times its original size.

Related: From Homemade Bread to Pickles, 20 Recipes to Master While Indoors

3. Grease and line with parchment paper two 6-inch round pans (or pan of your choice).

4. Portion the dough into equal portions (10 x 75 gram balls). Roll each piece of dough against a non-floured surface to create smooth, round dough balls.

5. Place five dough balls into each of the prepared pans, cover and set aside to rest a second time for 15 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 420°F. Prepare egg wash by mixing egg and milk.

7. Brush the dough balls with egg wash and sprinkle with flaky salt.

8. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Want more easy at-home recipes that use pantry ingredients? These meals that start with macaroni  and canned salmon recipes will have you cooking up a storm.

Watch out for Sabrina’s baking videos on the Food Network Canada Instagram account.

10 Pantry Staples This Nutritionist Can’t Live Without

Keeping a well-stocked pantry is always a top priority — menu planning and impromptu meals are made easy when I have what I need at hand. Building a healthy pantry takes time and can be overwhelming to shop for in one go, so start small. Go for one or two of the following recommendations and before you know it, a treasure trove of healthy cooking goodies will be at your disposal. The bulk food store is your best friend in the case for many of these goods, so stock up.

From canned beans to oils to grains to natural sweeteners, here’s a list of nutrient-filled pantry stars you should bring into your kitchen today.

1. Coconut Oil

The virgin variety of coconut oil, known for its luscious tropical taste, is heat-stable up to 350°F. I like to use this in place of butter for dairy-free baking, in smoothies, to sauté vegetables and as a foundation for coconut milk-based curries by toasting the spices in it. Coconut oil is one of my favourite ways to incorporate some healthy fats into my daily diet.

Try coconut oil in place of butter in pastry: Vegan Sweet Potato and Kale Galette with Pistachio Parmesan

vegan-sweet-potato-and-kale-galette

2. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

EVOO contains anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats and cell-protecting antioxidants. I use the extra-virgin variety for salad dressings, to garnish soups and grains, and even bake with it. More refined “light” olive oils are better for high-temperature roasting (325°F plus) as they’re less likely to oxidize.

Try baking with EVOO: Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with Mandarin Orange Glaze and Walnut Olive Brittle

zucchini-olive-oil-cake-with-mandarin-orange-glaze-and-walnut-olive-brittle

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

I keep apple cider vinegar handy to perk up just about any savoury meal. It goes especially well in salad dressings, and can brighten up a bean soup without added salt. “Raw” unpasteurized apple cider vinegar contains probiotics for a healthy immune system, making it a pantry must-have.

Use apple cider vinegar to brighten up a whole grain salad: Quinoa, Roasted Eggplant and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

quinoa-roasted-eggplant-and-apple-salad-with-cumin-vinaigrette

4. Raw Nuts and Seeds

I keep raw chia, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin and hemp seeds in my refrigerator for quick nutrient boosters for any meal, whether it’s a bowl of oats or addition to a salad. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and cashews get a workout in my homemade granolas, trail mix and homemade nut butters. Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy fats, protein and minerals, so I make sure to have at least a handful (all unsalted) every day.

Turn chia seeds into a creamy, dairy-free dessert: Berry Chia Seed Pudding

berry-chia-seed-pudding

5. Chickpeas

If I don’t have beans and legumes in my cupboard, I may go into full-on panic mode. I buy canned chickpeas (and cook my own when I’m feeling ambitious) for quick soups, stews, salads, vegan “fudge” and homemade hummus. Instead of egg or chicken, I mash chickpeas with mayonnaise and lemon for a chickpea salad to add between whole grain bread or tuck inside a wrap – it’s a quick, make-ahead lunch.

Have chickpeas this weekend for brunch: Smoky Chickpeas on Grilled Toast with Poached Eggs & Zahtar

smoky-chickpeas-on-grilled-toast-with-poached-eggs-and-zahtar

6. Whole Grains

I buy whole grains in bulk so I can try a small portion of each one. Millet, quinoa, short-grain brown rice and large-flake oats are my top picks, all delivering a unique nutritional profile. If you have a blender, you can grind your own gluten-free and whole grain flours for baking (for this, I recommend oats, millet or quinoa). Build a grain bowl, make a porridge or pudding, bake a cake, toss a salad, stir into a soup or stew — the sky’s the limit with whole grains.

Replace white rice with whole grain millet in risotto: Millet, Kale and Lemon Risotto 

millet-kale-and-lemon-risotto

7. Whole Grain Pasta

Sometimes, only pasta will do. I buy spelt, kamut or gluten-free brown rice noodles in every shape and size available (I really love pasta!). To watch portion size, I’ll enjoy 2 to 3 ounces (dry weight) and fill it out with plenty of low-starch vegetables and some protein, like a fried or poached egg — and probably some cheese on top.

Bulk up whole grain pasta with lean greens and meaty mushrooms: Whole Grain Spaghetti With Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

whole-grain-spaghetti-with-brussels-sprouts-and-mushrooms

8. Maple Syrup

I have a moderate sweet tooth and usually try to satiate it with fresh fruit (apples or bananas with peanut butter is my afternoon go-to). However, I always keep real maple syrup, preferably grade B “medium” for its full-bodied taste, in my kitchen. It is a great addition to granola, sweetening up Greek yogurt, baking, stir-fry sauces, beverages, as well as an obligatory topper for whole grain spelt pancakes and waffles.

Enhance your healthy comfort food dinner sides with maple syrup (and EVOO!): Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

maple-mashed-sweet-potatoes

9. Dried Herbs & Spices

If I want to add flavour to any meal and also bump up the nutritional prowess, I head on over to my spice cabinet. Like whole grains, I buy small portions of dried herbs and spices in bulk, for the most variety and best price. Dried herbs and spices contain lesser-known antioxidants that support good health. Cinnamon is great for sweet treats or Moroccan-inspired savoury dishes, cumin is always added to hummus, dried thyme tastes wonderful in roasted potatoes and chili powder helps to build a flavour-packed chili.

Give omega-3-packed salmon a hit of smoky, earthy spice: Blackened Salmon

blackened-salmon

10. Sea Salt

I choose unrefined sea salt for its mineral profile and clean, crisp taste. Fine-grain sea salt goes well in baking and flaky salt adds texture to just about any food, both savoury and sweet.

Skip store-bought trail mix and make your own sweet and salty, heart-healthy walnut version: Maple-Glazed Walnuts with Sea Salt

maple-glazed-walnuts-with-sea-salt

Want more pantry staple ideas? Check out 18 Staples You Should Always Have in Your Pantry and 11 Clever Ways to Use Pantry Staples