Week 1

After taking a good inventory of our pantry, we were pleasantly surprised to find we are quite well stocked, and with some pretty healthy stuff, too.  But the truth is, most of that stuff has been on the shelf for a while, as our busy schedules keep us using and replenishing the easy boxed or frozen dinners (or cold cereal) each week.  (Those items are omitted from our pantry itemization below.)

We are truly hoping this class jumps starts us on a path of using the good stuff we aren’t even quite sure what to do with sometimes.  (And the inventory precipitated a good cleaning out of the expired ones this class didn’t come in time to rescue.)

Our pantry pre-shopping looked like this:

Dry & Canned goods:Flour (Wheat, White, Bread, Cake), Sugar (Brown, White), Baking Powder, Baking Sugar, Cornstarch, Oatmeal, Various Pastas (White & Wheat), Rices (White, Brown, White & Brown Basmati, & a Brown Jasmine, Farro Wheat & Red Quinoa blend), Quinoa, Corn Meal, Quick Barley, Lentils, Canned Beans (White, Garbanzo, Kidney, White Kidney, & Chili), Tomato Paste, Tomato Sauce,  Italian Seasoned Diced Tomatoes, Canned Mushrooms, Soup (Tomato, Cream of Potato, Mushroom & Chicken), Canned Pineapple, Evaporated Milk, Corn Flakes, Ritz & Graham Crackers, Bisquick, Walnuts, Various spices

Oils, Vinegars, Condiments & Sauces: Oils (Olive, Vegetable, Coconut, Shortening), Vinegars (Rice, White Wine, Apple Cider), Worchestershire sauce, Soy Sauce, Cooking Wine, Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, Ketchup, Mustards (Yellow, Honey), Mayonnaise, Honey, Peanut Butter, Corn Syrup, Maple Syrup, Jam, BBQ sauce, Chicken Bouillon Cubes

Refrigerated items: Skim milk, Soy milk, Vanilla Yogurt, Cheese (Cheddar, Monteray Jack, Mozzarella, Provolone, Shredded Parmesan, Cream), Butter, Eggs, Minced Garlic

Freezer items: Fruits (Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Bananas, Cranberries), Vegetables (Peas, Corn, Green Beans, Mixed), Meats (Venison, Ground beef, Beef Steaks & Roasts, Pork Tenderloin, Chicken Breasts, Bacon)

Fresh Produce we always have on hand: Carrots, White Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Onions, Apples, Oranges, Bananas

I found this recipe in a stack of ones I’d clipped a few years ago and was glad to see we had enough of the ingredients to give it a good try.

Recipe #1

Healthy Winter Gratin

(From The Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookbook by Stephanie Pedersen)

Serves 6

  • 2 med parsnips (or 4 small) ~didn’t have
  • 1/2 med celery root ~didn’t have
  • 1/2 lb sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 lb russet (baking) potatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream~didn’t have
  • optional garnish: chopped parsley or chives
  1. Place oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel vegetables and cut into 0ne-inch cubes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add salt, garlic, pepper, pumpkin pie spice, broth and cream, tossing to combine.
  4. Transfer to gratin dish or casserole dish, spreading evenly.
  5. Cover gratin with a lid, parchment or foil. Bake until gratin is bubbling all over and vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife, about 30-40 min.
  6. Uncover gratin and cook for 5 – 10 minutes more to create a golden brown surface.

Because we didn’t have the parsnips or celery root we added carrots and white onion. And we substituted evaporated milk for the heavy cream.


We both LOVED it!  The pumpkin pie spice & pepper really made a great combination. And we enjoyed cooking together. 🙂  (So much more than wallpapering together on our 1st anniversary.) It was helpful to use the “setting it up ahead” and chopping technique tips we learned in class. They definitely made a difference in how stressful and time consuming the experience was.  Hopefully this will help us get beyond the grab, microwave and go style of eating.

Recipe #2

After spending the last couple of days fighting a bug, soup sounded especially good.  I found this Tasty & EASY soup in Fast Fixes with Mixes by Taste of Home.  I didn’t have the “mix” on hand, but it was just as easy to substitute egg noodles & McCormick powdered brown gravy for what would have been in the prepackaged pasta dinner mix.  Next will be to learn how to make that soup base without McCormick’s help. 🙂  I also substituted ground venison for the beef and only used 1 lb.  It was plenty.

Here’s the recipe:


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