The Pantry Challenge Journal ~ Week 1

I began my own Pantry Challenge a little late in the month; January 5th to be exact. I made a list of all food items in my pantry and deep freezer, and a few of the available dairy products in my refrigerator. All these meals I make this month will consist largely of what is in my stores unless I otherwise note as a special purchase. Each week I will post a journal for the previous week’s worth of meals, along with their original recipes so you can see how I have adapted them.

Tuesday, January 3rd: Romano-Crusted Chicken. I did have to buy the romano cheese at $4.79 but I got two meals out of it (this one and the Manicotti).

Wednesday, January 4th: Homemade Manicotti

Thursday, January 5th: I made roundeye steaks for dinner with a tomato-mushroom ragu. Sadly I am not a great steak cooker.

This post is more about the side dish than it is about the steak, but I will not deprive you of either. It’s just that this skillet corn is so good! We are not big corn eaters unless it is fresh off the cob. I still buy frozen corn because I like to add it to soups. Oddly enough, Jadon does not care for corn at all. How many kids do you know that do not like corn?? I don’t mind one bit to tell you the truth. Corn does not have much nutritional value at all and it is very starchy, so not a basic vegetable in our house. Jadon does like most green veggies so I find that to be a much better trade-off.

This recipe came out of the Summer 2011 issue of Kraft Food & Family.

1 tsp. butter

4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 8 ears)

1/2 cup sour cream

2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

Heat butter in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add corn; cook 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in sour cream; cook and stir 3 minutes or until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and basil. Serve immediately.

*I am only likely to have fresh corn in the summer, so I make this often with frozen corn. It takes a little bit longer to cook because there is extra liquid. Cook it until the corn starts to develop a browned, roasted color. Then follow the recipe as directed. Also, I didn’t have any fresh basil, but I love basil so I used a full T. of dried.

The Steaks with tomato-mushroom ragu called for sirloin, but I only had roundeye . I also am currently out of fresh mushrooms or garlic, and no fire-roasted tomatoes. So I attempted to make this ragu using dried mushrooms which I rehydrated with a little chicken broth, and some canned diced tomatoes. Not bad overall, but interesting. I’m sure the fresh version would have been excellent.

2 beef sirloin steaks (about 2 pounds), halved crosswise

Salt & Pepper

2 Tbsp. EVOO

One 6-ounce pckg cremini mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

One 28-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Grated parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side; transfer to a plate.

2. In the same skillet, add the remaining 1 T. oil, the mushrooms and garlic; cook stirring for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, 1/2 cup water and the crushed red pepper; bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, then return the steaks to the skillet and cook until heated through. Serve the steaks topped with the ragu and grated cheese.

Okay so what changes did I make? I used chopped jarred garlic, canned diced tomatoes, rehydrated mushrooms (I can’t remember what kind they were, possibly portabella but more likely regular button), and roundeye. It wasn’t much of a success, but I have a feeling that this would have been so much better had I fresh ingredients, and everything the recipe called for as well. I also think this is worth making again with chicken. I bet that would be amazing.

This recipe also suggested polenta as a side. I have been craving a good, creamy polenta, and lately have been drawn to recipes that call for it. Alas, I have not the means at present to make a good polenta, and so I served this with a mushroom risotto.

Friday, January 6th: Cory returned from his South Africa mission trip today, so we met him on his way home from the airport for dinner and a movie. We ate at Plaza Azteca (I ♥ Mexican food) and saw We Bought A Zoo. I don’t care what anyone says, that was a good movie! And with the exception of a few words, was an excellent family movie.

Saturday, January 7th: I had intended to make Chicken Parmigiana on this night, but forgot there was a dinner/fund raiser called “God’s Bounty” going on for our church. So I made pizza for the boys and then Cory and I went out to try some new things like, Pheasant Pot Pie, Wild Boar BBQ, Tuna Bites (oh yeah! I’m looking for a recipe now), Wild Turkey Nuggets, Venison Meatloaf, Venison Chili, and lots more, I can’t even recall it all.

Sunday, January 8th: Chicken Cakes Parmigiana. This is a quick, Italian-style chicken dish that uses deli rotisserie. It comes from Betty Crocker.

1/2 cup Italian-style bread crumbs (you can use plain or Panko and add basil, oregano, garlic, etc. to season it)

1 egg

2 Tbsp Milk

2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp garlic salt

2 cups finely chopped deli rotisserie chicken

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup tomato sauce, heated

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 oz)1. In medium bowl, mix bread crumbs, egg, milk, Parmesan cheese and garlic salt. Stir in chicken.

2. Shape chicken mixture by about 1/4 cupful into 8 (3 inch) cakes.

3. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook cakes in oil 4 to 5 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

4. Serve cakes topped with pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese. Makes 4 servings (2 cakes each).

GUESS WHAT? I didn’t make that. I didn’t have deli rotisserie sitting around in my pantry. Yes, I suppose I could have cooked up some chicken and then chopped it up, but that would defeat the purpose of having a recipe like this for making a quick chicken parmesan. It was much easier for me to do it my own way:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 pkg extra crispy Shake & Bake

1 jar pasta sauce, heated and tweaked 😉

Spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package

Shredded mozzarella cheese

* Wash chicken breasts and allow to remain slightly damp. Toss in bag with Shake ‘n Bake until covered. Bake in preheated oven at 350* for 25-30 minutes, depending on thickness of meat. Place on top cooked spaghetti, cover with pasta sauce and add shredded mozzarella on top. Place back in oven for a minute to allow the cheese to melt, if desired.

Always a favorite around here, especially Cory. He doesn’t have blood running through his veins like normal people: he has red sauce. A good red sauce makes him happy the way dark chocolate makes me happy. Weird. I serve these with lima beans steamed in chicken broth and little garlic toasts on whole grain bread slices.

Happy Cooking!


One thought on “The Pantry Challenge Journal ~ Week 1

  1. Glad Cory made it home safe!!! Just wanted to say, Julieta doesn’t like corn either!!!! Jonathon even made home made creamed corn and she didn’t like it! Crazy, huh?

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