Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Time out

Sorry I haven't been posting lately; I've been involved with a couple of large projects and haven't done much more than basic cooking: a testament to what a well-stocked pantry and a few choice freezer items can do for you when you don't have time to shop.

What are some of those items? For one thing, I always keep a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and tenders in the freezer. Breasts usually look better on the plate, but often they are so large that I cut them in half before cooking. I like the texture of tenders better, and they thread well on bamboo skewers.

Proscuitto lasts a long time, and can be cut in threads to garnish salads or vegetables, or wrapped around asparagus spears or melon.

Parmesan can punch up a salad or soups, or made into crisps. Fresh herbs lend a special note as well.

Canned beans are a time saver, although I've not found a can of pinto beans that tastes as good as those I make from scratch. I keep several cans of diced tomatoes on hand at all times.

Of course, there's always dried pasta; although I enjoy making my own, the boxed varieties are indispensable for fast meals. To go with them, I also have a jar or two of spaghetti sauce. And I keep a couple of different rices on hand, and good instant mashed potatoes.

I try never to be without frozen broth, but I also keep a couple of boxes of vegetable and chicken broth in the pantry as well. Sometimes, even thawing broth takes too many precious minutes.

There's more, but I think you get some idea. I'd love to hear what you keep in your pantry. I'm always open to new ideas.