Stocking a Pantry

Weeks ago, I came across a great article on Stocking Your Pantry from Paula Deen. Interestingly enough, pretty much everything that author Kendra Adachi cites as musts for your pantry, fridge, and freezer are staples here in the ‘Lil Burgher house [prior to reading], too! You never know when you might have unexpected guests or reason to throw a party. I also like to keep some easy dip mixes on hand from Tastefully Simple to toss in with these staples and viola! have a spectacular spread.

For instance, the other day prior to the Super Bowl, I quickly grabbed two boxes, some sour cream and mayo and had two dips. I can’t tell you how valuable time is these days being a working mom of two, so having a well stocked kitchen is a blessing, indeed.

Now that you have a nicely stocked pantry, perhaps it is time for a pantry challenge (making a meal that uses at least one item from your pantry every day of the week)? I am always using my pantry to drive meal plans for us. We are always fully stocked on canned chicken, tomatoes, taco shells, rice, pasta, and sauce, so even on those “bad days”, we can quickly throw something together.

Speaking of meal plans, here’s a few really basic dinner ideas using items from the article to get you started. Enjoy!

Breakfast Burritos–Flour Tortillas, Eggs, Sausage, Salsa, and Cheese—Fry up the sausage and eggs. Spoon into burritos

Baked Ziti–Ziti, pasta sauce, cheese, Italian bread crumbs—Boil water. Add ziti to water and cook as directed. Spray a 9×9 baking pan with cooking spray. Drain ziti and pour into baking pan. Spoon sauce over the ziti and mix in some mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle Italian bread crumbs on top of the ziti and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Italian Sausages and Roasted Potatoes–Italian Sausage, (rolls), sauce, (bonus if you have peppers on hand), potatoes, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, spices of choice—I am a fan of Italian sausage made in a crock pot, so put the crock pot on low and add sausage, sauce, and peppers. Let this cook for 6-8 hours. When sausage is just about finished, you can cut up your potatoes into cubes. Put the potatoes in a baking pan, coat with EVOO, and sprinkle with spices (we are a fan of seasoned salt or Tony Chachere’s Creole). Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. (Potatoes a favorite thanks to Mrs. ‘Ski.)

Lucky Biscuits (ala “Burgh Baby”)

I am a huge fan of breakfast, but my preference is to have breakfast for dinner (or after dark at a great Myrtle Beach locale, Pan Am). One of my favorite bloggers, Michelle/Burgh Baby, posted a great recipe for Lucky Biscuits, and make sure you check out her story behind them! It was a typical, cold February night when I decided to whip up a batch of them myself. Paired them with some hashbrowns, they made a perfect dinner. The best part is that it made me realize I can make my daughter her own version since I made my own biscuits instead of using the canned ones (hers would be made with soy milk, and the ONLY reason I made my own is that I didn’t have any canned on hand). This was a delicious meal that we will definitely be making again. Thanks Michelle!

(Excuse the mess…I didn’t almost burn down my house because I learned from Michelle; however, I apparently was still very sloppy. These seriously melted in my mouth, so the mess didn’t matter to me.)

Buffalo Chicken Mac N’ Cheese

A few weeks ago, the always delightful fellow mama blogger, The Mrs. of Trying Our Best, tweeted about making a Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese casserole. You had me at Buffalo, mrs.! 🙂 I asked her if she would share the recipe, and she led me to the Food Network’s version of the recipe. She doctored it up to be lighter and healthier, I doctored it up to be more “me”. 🙂 (I will share her link when she has it ready.) I am sharing tonight because this dish is my contribution to an AFC Championship party (GO STEELERS!) tomorrow night, and if I get people asking how I made it, I can direct them here.

What you need:
1 lb. macaroni noodles
2-10 oz. cans of chicken (white in water)
Chopped Onion (spice, to taste)
Olive Oil (to coat pan)
3/4 c. Buffalo Sauce (I also used Frank’s)
7 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp flour
3 c. 2% milk
16 oz. cheese, shredded, your choice (I am a fan of colby jack, so I bought 2 8 oz bags of that)
1 c. bread crumbs

Mix it up…
1. Boil the water in a pot. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 dish with Pam. When water is boiled, add in the macaroni.

2. At the same time the mac is cooking, I put the chopped onion spice and olive oil (ok, I used EVOO with roasted garlic this time) into a pan and start to “brown” the onion”. Add in the chicken and allow that to heat/get a light tan color.

3. Start the cheese sauce by melting the margarine in a saucepan and SLOWLY adding in the flour and milk. Keep stirring, but check that macaroni and chicken, too! Add in the cheese, a bit at a time, until you have a super creamy sauce like this:

4. Time to add the buffalo sauce to the chicken and stir.

5. By now, your macaroni is ready and so is the cheese. Remove both from the heat. Drain the macaroni. Add about 1/2 the macaroni to the 9×13 dish. Add about 1/2 the cheese sauce to the macaroni (trying hard not to burn yourself whilst taking a camera phone picture and dumping/stirring:)

6. Now your chicken should look like this:

…which means it is time to mix that in with the macaroni and cheese sauce. Slowly add in the rest of the macaroni. Top with the bread crumbs. Put in heated oven for 25-35 minutes until the top is nice and crispy.

7. Remove your finished product from the oven. Allow it to cool a few minutes, dig in and enjoy!

Homemade Pizza


Last night, Greg asked what we wanted for dinner. For some reason, I was seriously craving homemade pizza. He worked his magic on the dough (I have never seen him prep dough, it was quite honestly intimidating ’cause he is so good!), Arianna ran trash duty, Evan chilled in his sling, and I seasoned the pie. Ari had her special non-cheese version in the oven and was so excited when the timer went off, “Pizza done! Pizza done!”.  We thoroughly enjoyed cooking together, and it made us realize we don’t do homemade often enough. It was simply delicious and called for a repeat tonight. Looks like we are breaking out the bread machine more often!!! (On another note, it made Greg think of a gift wish for us–a pizza pan probably wouldn’t fit in our oven, but a baking stone sure could be nice!)

Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Sandwiches



Tonight was a yummy meal that was very filling and hearty, perfect for 13 degree weather! Last night I tossed a pork loin in some garlic, season all, and chachere’s cajun. Next I threw it in the crockpot with some water, white zin, sweet baby ray’s bbq sauce, sweet and sour salad dressing, ketchup, and garlic/onion sauce. After letting it marinate all night, we set it on low just before 8 and let it cook almost 12 hours. What resulted was pork that fell apart and was so tender and juicy…a perfect sandwich! My husband prepped corn and a brocoli/cheese pasta. A great meal! Yum!