What’s in the Pantry?

antry staples are a must.  Staples can be used at any time and are great to have when you have surprise guests or when you just didn’t feel like going to the store for that one ingredient you needed to make dinner.  

Your pantry staples may not be the same as mine, but I want to share a few things for those that are clueless or might need a little help stocking up.  Oil or butter is important for cooking and is in most all recipes.  Whether your favorite is olive or avocado or even vegetable oil, make sure you keep some on hand.  Salt and pepper are basic seasonings you should have, but for my family taco seasoning and Head Country Seasoning are staples that must be on hand at all times.  Something else you might not think about though is apple cider vinegar.  It’s easy to add to your dishes and has many health benefits.

Flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder, cocoa powder and vanilla are all super important in baking and are essential in my home, but these ingredients are also vital for making many other things like pancakes or biscuits.  Consider keeping cream of tartar on hand too.  It adds volume and can stabilize your recipes.  As a bonus, it can also be used to polish your stainless steel and deter ants as well!  Baking mixes are good to keep on hand too like cake mix, corn muffin mix, Bisquik or pancake mix.

Bread spoils, but if you want to buy in bulk, freeze the extras.  Tortillas last a bit longer and can be used in place of bread in almost any recipe.  Crackers, bread crumbs and even cereal can be used to bread your meat for an extra crunch and don’t cost much.  Rice, beans, and pastas can be used in just about any meal as filler or even the main dish and will last months in the pantry.

Canned vegetables, broth, pickles, tomato paste are things that can be added to or used to make a meal.  I also keep canned chilies and salsa on hand to spice up our recipes.  Can you tell we like spice and Tex Mex?  Jellies, jams, mayo and mustard can add flavor to dishes or can be used to make sandwiches.  Worchester, soy or hot sauce are all great for adding flavor to a recipe as well.  

Milk, butter, cheese and eggs are vital to keep on hand.  I also keep heavy cream on hand.  It lasts longer than milk and can be used interchangeably in a lot of recipes.  Chicken, hamburger meat, bacon and sausage can all be kept in the freezer to prolong shelf life.  Don’t forget frozen vegetables like potatoes, carrots or green beans.  Fresh produce is harder to keep in stock, but dried or frozen fruits can be kept easily. 

All this being said, it’s important to only stock up on things your family will actually eat.  Don’t get black eyed peas if your family will only eat baked beans, etc.  Don’t get pasta if your nephew refuses to touch it in any form.  You get my point.  

As a bonus, most of these don’t cost much to buy and keep on your shelves.  Check your supplies this weekend and skip the trip to the store if you can.  Meet me in the kitchen for easy dishes from the pantry!

Chicken Tamale Casserole

1 pkg corn muffin mix (such as Jiffy)

1 14.5oz can cream-style corn

2 eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup milk

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp cumin

2 cups shredded taco cheese blend, divided

1 ½ cups enchilada sauce

3 cups shredded cooked chicken

Sour cream, tomato, onion or other toppings as desired

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray 9×13 inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray, set aside.  In large bowl combine corn muffin mix, cream-style corn, eggs, milk, chili powder, cumin and 1 cup of cheese. Stir until combined. Pour into casserole dish. Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and use knife to pierce cornbread mixture several times all over. Pour enchilada sauce over top of casserole. Top with shredded chicken and remaining cheese. Bake for an additional 20 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing into pieces and serving with other taco toppings as desired. Enjoy!

Recipe from iwashyoudry.com


Cheesy Taco Macaroni

2lbs ground turkey

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tsps. minced garlic 

Taco seasoning, to taste

3 cups chicken or beef broth

1 cup water

1 can diced chilies and tomatoes

4 cups macaroni, dry

Velveeta, to taste

¼ cup milk, plus more as needed

Sour cream, tomato, onion or other toppings as desired

In large skillet, cook ground turkey, onion and garlic until cooked through.  Drain off excess grease, if necessary.  Add taco seasoning to taste.  Add broth, can of chilies and tomatoes and water and heat for 5 minutes.  Add macaroni and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cover skillet with lid.  Cook for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente.  Add Velveeta and milk and cover for 5-10 minutes to melt cheese.  We like cheese and tend to use the whole block, but feel free to use as much as you prefer.  Stir to combine.  If it is too thick, add milk to thin as desired.  


Rice Bowl with Egg and Avocado

Go with a brown rice for this dish instead of white.  Brown rice is full of nutrients and fiber that is missing in its white counterpart.  This way you have a nutrient packed and filling meal instead of being hungry again in an hour.  

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 tsp red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

3 Tbsps. olive oil

4 large eggs

1 avocado, sliced

Hot sauce or salsa for serving, if desired

Mix scallions, rice and vinegar in small bowl.  Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Crack eggs into skillet and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until whites are set around the edges, about 2 minutes. Flip eggs and cook to desired doneness, about 30 seconds for a runny yolk. Divide rice among bowls and top with eggs, avocado, and hot sauce.

Recipe from bonapetit.com


Avocado Chickpea Salad Sandwich

1 ripe avocado

1 15oz can chickpeas drained or 1.5 cups cooked

½ cup finely chopped red onion

½ cup finely chopped yellow pepper

¼ cup finely chopped tomato, optional

½ tsp ground cumin

¼ to ½ tsp cayenne/red chili powder

juice of 1 lime more or less to preference

generous dash of black pepper

In medium bowl, mash chickpeas and avocado until avocado is well mashed and most of the chickpeas are not whole.  Add all other ingredients from onion through spices. Mix in. Taste and adjust spice to taste.  Prep sandwich bread by toasting if desired. Add layer of greens of choice. Layer good helping of smashed chickpea avocado mixture.  Add layer of juicy tomatoes and serve. Use this mash in sandwiches, tacos, wraps or salad bowl. Change up the spices for variation. 

Recipe adapted from veganricha.com.


Cheesy Chicken

6 boneless skinless chicken breast

2 10.5oz cans condensed cream of chicken soup

1 1lb loaf Velveeta Queso Blanco

Pinch of salt

2 tsps. ground black pepper, more or less to taste

Garlic powder to taste

Place crock pot liner in slow cooker.  Place chicken in slow cooker. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.  Cover with cream of chicken soup.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or until chicken is cooked through.  Add Velveeta and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until cheese has melted.  

Recipe adapted from Crock-Pot 5 Ingredient or Less cookbook.