10 Pantry Staples You Can't Do Without
Having these items on hand can make life a lot easier -- especially around dinner time.
- Dried beans (black, split pea, navy, or black-eyed pea): Slow cook or boil beans on the stovetop for a warm, satisfying meal. They also make a great taco or burrito filling the next day.
- Pasta: With a shape for every taste, you can easily transform your kids' favorite pasta into a main or side dish.
- Tomatoes/tomato puree/tomato paste: Aside from the starring role tomatoes play in homemade spaghetti sauce, you can spread the thicker tomato paste on ready-made pizza crusts or English muffins.
- Peanut butter: Try mixing some peanut butter with boiling water and a splash of soy sauce for a peanut dressing to toss with noodles or drizzle over warm spinach leaves. And, of course, a PB & J just wouldn't be the same without the PB.
- Old Bay seasoning: This seasoning is not just for shrimp boils anymore. Old Bay blends in nicely with burgers and turkey meatloaf. It even adds zest to evening omelets.
- Shallots: Sliver or dice a garlic-scented mini-bulb and sauté it as a flavorful ingredient for meats and soups.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: Great for when you sauté vegetables and stir fry chicken strips. And because olive oil is high in monosaturated fats, it's perfect for homemade salad dressings.
- All-purpose, unbleached flour: While any all-purpose flour will do, stick with the unbleached variety to thicken sauces and light gravies.
- Cane sugar: This staple can lend a subtle sweetness to suppertime recipes. Use it to whip up cake batter and cookie dough, too.
- Rice (brown or jasmine): A healthy accompaniment to a variety of dishes, rice also takes on the flavors it's mixed with, such as light coconut milk or chicken stock.
About the Author:
Joe LoCicero is the founder, with his wife Lori, of Practical Whimsy (TM), a company devoted to family style with products, tips for entertaining, and recipes at practicalwhimsy.com. His books include The Complete Idiot's Guide to Clear Thinking and Cake Decorating for Dummies.