Use them Skills: Recipes that Combine Pantry and Fridge Essentials

Holy buckets!  It’s already been a week since our last post.  It’s been a really busy, albeit fun, week.  Crystal and I got hitched last Saturday.  We are currently celebrating a week of marital bliss.  We took a little vacation, and took a break from our diet.  So now we have a little work to do to get back to fighting weight.  We decided that since this is our first post as a married couple, we would do it together from start to finish.  We recently shared with you all a list of staples for your pantry and fridge.  We decided that this week, we would give you a few quick and easy recipes that you can make with nothing but the pantry staples.   We’ll throw two tasty and healthy recipes at you this week, and maybe more in weeks to follow.  This week, we thought we would share a recipe for some quick and easy pantry pasta, and a super chicken salad.  Let’s start with the pasta.

Here are the down and dirty base ingredients for the pantry pasta that we will be using: whole wheat pasta (any type), Italian herb seasoning (a dried spice blend), Parmesan cheese, and garlic.  From there, we will show you variations on this simple pasta base that will have you looking and cooking like a pro, but still keeping your budget in check.  Jeff says don’t forget the protein.  This is a great time to use up leftover meats.  Cooking at home will help keep the unhealthy factor in check too, because you control what goes into your skillet.


6.5 oz Whole Wheat Pasta

2 Tbs Chopped Garlic

3 Tbs Olive Oil

1 ½ tsp Italian Seasoning

Parmesan to taste

Black Pepper to taste

Additional tasties:

¼ cup chopped onion

1 Can chopped tomatoes

1 Can artichoke hearts

The juice and zest of 1 Lemon

¼ Cup White Wine

2 Tbs capers

The Process:

1.)    Bring some water to a boil.  Be sure to use plenty of water.  Jeff uses at least a gallon.  Crystal did not, and this displeased Jeff.  Don’t add salt to the water until it has reached a boil.  Trust me on this one.  Once the water has reached a boil, add some salt and your pasta.

2.)    Place a pan over medium high heat.  Once it is warm, add the olive oil, garlic, onion, and Italian seasoning.  Sauté these until the onion and garlic are tender.  Be sure not to burn the garlic.  It will make your pasta taste worse than Styrofoam.  Yes, Jeff has tasted Styrofoam.  Once your onion and garlic is ready, add the canned tomatoes (Make sure you drained them) and artichokes (you drained these already, since you’re smart). Throw on a few grinds of black pepper here.   Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes.

3.)    Hopefully your pasta is just about done.  Cook the pasta to your desired doneness.  Jeff likes it al dente, Crystal likes hers overcooked and ruined.  Once your pasta is cooked, strain it, but for the love of God, don’t rinse it.  If you rinse it, nothing will ever stick to it.  Remember that tasty sauce you’re making?  You want it to stick to the pasta.  Once it’s strained off, add the pasta directly to your pan with the sauce in it.

4.)  Add your white wine.  We used chardonnay, because it was already open.  Personally, I’d shy away from anything sweet, like Riesling or Moscato, but you can use whatever you like.  Toss in the Lemon juice and capers, too.  Crank the heat up until the liquid is boiling.  Stir constantly for a minute or two.

5.)   Remove your food from the heat.  At this point, add in your lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese.  Give it a stir, put it on a plate, and have at it.

Other variations include Pesto, Chicken, Walnuts, Olives, Basil, mushrooms, Shrimp, and basically anything you can imagine.

Pasta Base

Next up is the chicken salad.  Chicken salad is a boss.  Put it between two slices of bread and you got lunch.  Put it on a cracker, it’s now a snack.   Got some romaine lettuce leaves lying around?  Put this on it and you have an appetizer that will make Emril say something stupid.  What I’m going to lay down for you is a basic recipe for a healthier chicken salad.  When we finish, I’ll show you a few different things you can add to it to completely change it.  It’s simple, it’s tasty, and it’s cheap.


1 Can (12.5 oz) chicken in water (If you have leftover chicken, use it instead)

¼ Cup chopped onion

2 Celery stalks all diced up

1 ½ Tbs Olive Oil Mayonnaise

1 ½ Tbs 0% Greek Yogurt

1 tsp Mustard (Use Dijon or stone ground)

Black pepper to taste

1.)    The nice thing about this chicken salad is it is pretty much dump and stir.  So, drain the chicken, and dump it into your container.   I like making it right in the Tupperware I plan on storing it in.  I hate dishes… While you’re at it, dump in everything else.  Give it a stir.  Behold!  Chicken Salad!!!

What you have here is your base.  Sure, you can eat it just like this, but why?  Below are a few simple and easy combinations that will rock your taste buds.  You might even have the stuff you need to make them just lying around in your pantry.

Chicken Salad Base


Add some curry powder, shredded coconut, halved grapes, and toasted nuts, and you got yourself a dynamite chicken curry salad.

Toss in some Greek seasoning, a splash of lemon juice, and a pinch of lemon pepper, and you have a Mediterranean flavor.  You could toss some Kalamata olives in there, too, and it would be great.  We just didn’t have any.

Take some pesto that you have, and a dash of dried oregano and you’ve got a chicken salad that is worthy of some fancy pants place, like the kind that I can’t take Crystal to.  We don’t have nice things.

We hope you enjoy these recipes.  Simple, easy, tasty, and affordable.  Seriously, that pasta costs about $1.15 a serving.  We encourage you to play with your food, not like making mashed potato sculptures, although that is ok from time to time.  Change the recipes around, add your favorite flavors, and make them your own.  Until next week, stay happy and healthy!

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