Every few months or so, I get into this mega-organizational mood, and with that comes my frustration with an over-stuffed pantry and freezer. I often find myself at the grocery store picking up things that are good for “in a pinch” meals, but then I often cook other things; which results in a very well stocked (or stuffed to the brim) pantry and freezer.
my grain basket is way overstuffed, and yes, I have a grain basket
So, along with all of the other little home organization projects that I have been busying myself with lately (read this book if you haven’t, it is so good!), I also have been inspired for the Mr. and I to try and work through some of the things (or all of the things) that have been stocking in our pantry and freezer. Granted, I am sure that it will fill up again at some point, but I like feeling like we hit the reset button.
So I’ve been cooking a lot this week with things from our pantry. A lot of creativity has been needed, but everything has turned out great. With a few random fresh items reaching their point of no return, I made what my family calls a “garbage pizza.” No, not because it tastes bad, but because it has a ton of toppings on it. I layered sliced tomatoes sprinkled with oregano, onions and fresh cooked sausage; and then I topped it with a little of my homemade ricotta, and some fresh mozzarella. After it came out of the oven, just a drizzle of e.v.o.o. and some fresh torn basil. It was fresh and delicious! (Pizza is always a winner in our house.)
I also decided to whip up a Tuscan White Bean Soup. I’ve had these pesky white beans staring at me from my pantry for months now. What had I bought them for? I can’t even begin to remember, but for some reason, I just haven’t used them. So, I figured soup was a good use. I rendered some bacon in my pan, then added a bit of onions and garlic and seasoned them. I let that cook down, then de-glazed the pan with a bit of wine. I added in my can of beans, one small can of vegetable stock (you could use anything, it was just what I had on hand) and some fresh diced rosemary. I let this bubble away for a good 30 minutes. After simmering, I removed the bacon and pureed the soup into silky, creamy beany deliciousness. I sliced up a loaf of bread that I had baked, oiled the slices and popped them on the grill to get a little char. Soup and grilled bread? Yes, a completely brown colored meal, but oh so good.
You read earlier that I had used a bit of sausage for our pizza – well, I still had another lump of sausage to use. What’s a girl to do? Thankfully a favorite recipe popped into my head – a sausage and tomato ragu by Lidia Bastianich (I last made it here). You slowly cook some sausage with onions, wine, tomatoes and basil, until it all gets real friendly. It gets so sweet and savory and addictive. This is definitely one of our favorite sauces to make, and luckily we had just the right ingredients on hand to make a small batch. Perfetto!
Some of you may have seen on my Instagram that a friend gifted me some beautiful basil and tomatoes from his garden – the perfect opportunity for a quick and easy Italian lunch. I picked up a little prosciutto di parma and imported mozzarella, went home and put together a simple caprese salad. When the ingredients are fresh, there is nothing better.
And with all of these savory dishes, you have to have something sweet, right? Well, in our house, for sure! So, the hubs whipped up a batch of our absolute favorite chocolate chip cookies ever…(drum roll please)…Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies. Just make sure if you make these babies to under-bake them a little, and then let them cool for 10 minutes and they will be ooey gooey perfection.
We rounded out the week not with more cooking, but with some apple picking. We drove out to Julian on Sunday morning to take advantage of the freshly opened apple and pear fields. We picked way too many pounds of apples and pears considering we are leaving town here very soon, but I am really excited to make our first applesauce of the season.
What have you been whipping up in the kitchen? Any ideas on what to do with a bag of frozen corn and some tomatoes?