Pantry Raid

I’ve been on a kick since around the new year to de-clutter the house. We are considering putting our house on the market within the year….or next few months. Not sure yet. In any case, just the thought of it has pushed me into this torrential cleaning-organizing-decluttering-nagging task whirlwind. Incidentally, about a month after I put together the list of things we needed to do, I started reading The Happiness Project, the author of which is just WAY too much like myself, and so reading about all the stuff she did and took on and organized and tackled is just sending me over the edge. Anyways, how that is related to a blog about food is that I realized my pantry and cabinets had become stuffed with items that were not being used, were half-gone, bought for one crazy recipe then never looked at again, etc etc. OR, there were duplicates of stupid things that I always assume I never have, so I always buy at the grocery store, just to come home, open up the spice cabinet to see that I already have two unopened containers of coriander. Great.

We have also recently had two good friends move out of state, and in doing so, they have done meat/liquor/canned food drafts with their friends to get rid of most of their food in their cabinets, because nobody wants to spend time trying to move some jars of peanut butter and a half empty box of crackers. No offense to my friends, but when I move I don’t want to have to get rid of all my food. I just want to eat it.

So I have started a pantry raid project to try and use up all the items in my cabinets. Of which there are many:

pantry raid cabinet 2

SO MUCH DRIED FRUIT

 

First, I created an inventory of all the food I had in my cabinets, refrigerator, freezer, pantry, etc etc. I did this on paper and also digitally through an app on my iPad. Second, I started researching recipes that used random things or things I had too much of like how I had three containers of oatmeal. Really? Or poppy seeds. Why do I have poppy seeds? Or bags of dried Arbol chilis. It’s all a mystery. Finally, I started implementing the recipes into our weekly meals or other items. My first foray into this was using up some of the oatmeal by making oatmeal breakfast cookies. These are an awesome way to use up odds and ends in your cabinets. They are also super healthy, are dairy, flour and sugar free.

breakfast oatmeal cookies

breakfast oatmeal cookies

Breakfast Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole Ripe Bananas, Mashed Until Creamy
  • ⅓ cups Peanut Butter, Creamy Or Chunky
  • 1/4 cup honey or Agave
  • ⅔ cups Unsweetened Applesauce
  • ¼ cups Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon Butter Extract, Optional
  • 1-½ cup Quick Oatmeal, Uncooked
  • ¼ cups Chopped nuts or seed, Peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc.
  • ¼ cups Chocolate Chips, white chocolate morsels, chopped dried fruit, etc

Method

  1. Preheat heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, mix mashed banana, peanut butter and honey until completely combined. Then add in the applesauce, vanilla protein powder and vanilla and butter extracts. Mix again until completely combined.
  3. Add in the oatmeal and nuts, morsels or dried fruit to the banana mixture and combine.
  4. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Drop cookie dough, by spoonfuls, onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and flatten cookies into circles, about a 1/3″ thick.
  6. Bake cookies approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown and done. Remove from oven and let rest on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then move to cooling rack.
  7. When cookies are completely cool, store in a covered container.

I split the batter in half and in half I put diced dried plums, white chocolate morsels and walnuts. In the other half I put chocolate chip and peanut butter morsels, cashews and sunflower seeds. Almost everything in the recipe I had on hand except apple sauce, because I don’t have a four year old in the house . . .

It was a great way for me to use up some half-empty packages of nuts and dried fruit – two things that just seem to multiply in our cabinets. These cookies were great – Jeremy and I had them for breakfast everyday for over a week – the batter makes a pretty good amount. In fact, I think I’ll keep making them every few weeks just to have on hand, especially since it’s really hard to find granola bars at the grocery store that aren’t as bad for you as anything else on the aisle.

Next up: tackling dried chilis, frozen unidentified sausage and wild rice. Stay tuned!

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Return of the Ramen

I hated Ramen growing up. My sister used to eat top ramen what seemed like every day and then one day my dad told me the noodles were worms and that was IT for about 10 years. Then…I went to college. And I became a vegetarian. And a broke college student. Enter: my wormy Ramen nemesis. It doesn’t matter how much you detest something…if it’s .15 cents a package, it’s hard to deny. So I started experimenting with it and seeing if I could make it taste like something besides just noodles and it worked. I discovered all kinds of combinations that included adding frozen peas, shrimp (I ate seafood), tofu, onions, spices, sauces, and so on. And Ramen became a thing I could eat again without gagging a little bit. However, I will only eat the “Oriental” flavored ramen, I still think the others are pretty gross.

Lately, I’ve just wanted soup. Just brothy, simple, hot hot hot soup. So I pulled an old college grocery store trip, got four packs of Ramen for $1 (you used to be able to get at least 5 for $1- sheesh, this inflation is out of control!), a pack of extra-firm tofu and a bundle of green onions. I brought it home, cooked the soup according to the directions, adding a quarter of the block of tofu, diced into small cubes, in at the end with the flavor packet. Then I added a healthy splash of Sriracha sauce (I like my soup spicy!), and a little hoisin sauce. Then I topped the bowl with two green onions, snipped up with a pair of kitchen shears.  I realize this is no great culinary genius, but man was it exactly what I wanted.

Ramen

Tastes like College.

I’m definitely glad I don’t have to eat this several times a week anymore, but it’s still pretty yummy. And filling!

Here are some other combinations to try:

  • Oriental ramen packet cooked, add snow peas, shrimp and crushed mint or basil
  • Oriental ramen packet cooked, add a splash of coconut milk, bean sprouts, cilantro and ginger
  • Chicken ramen packet cooked, add canned or freshly shredded chicken, onions and a little cheese
  • Beef ramen packet cooked, add cooked meatballs and frozen, canned or fresh mixed veggies (corn, carrots, beans, peas)
  • Cook ramen noodles without adding spice packet. Drain noodles and use in pasta salad, or mixed into a cold bean salad, or drizzle with olive oil and top with fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil for a caprese ramen salad

Also, for the ramen lover in your life, this spork is obviously necessary.

ramen spork

Genius.

Too bad my sister didn’t have that back in 1992….