Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Well-Stocked Pantry or Things You Can Make in My Kitchen with No Thought

Ina's Outrageous Brownies without the nuts...

I am a big believer in being prepared...I check my calendar. I plan. I make lists. And I always have certain things in my kitchen so I can make something with just a moment's notice. To wit:

1. Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies. Full credit to Ina for this awesome recipe, but bigger props to my friend Rachel for introducing me to that recipe. It is easy and it makes a gazillion brownies. So I always have on hand the unsweetened chocolate and the chocolate chips required for this one. (I usually don't add the walnuts. I'm a brownie purist like that...)

One half-sheet pan FULL of Outrageous Brownies

2. Spinach Artichoke Dip. This is relatively new to my rotation, but after making Alton Brown's spinach artichoke dip (five minutes to mix it up, tops) and getting raves on it, I always have artichoke hearts and chopped spinach (both frozen) and cream cheese on hand so I can make this. The other ingredients (mayo, sour cream, garlic powder, Parmesan) are always in my cupboard. I've altered the recipe slightly to use weight (see below) because I'm not saving ANY part of a box of frozen ...anything. This is open, use it all.

3. Italian tomatoes, preferably San Marzano. I try to always have at least one 28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes. I just buy the whole tomatoes. I can make a  homemade sauce for deep-dish pizza or a sauce for Bolognese. I don't chop them or anything--add the can, use potato masher to pulp them up. Done.

4. Lemon, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper--Pound chicken breasts (boneless, skinless), marinate them in those ingredients, grill, enjoy. This is a go-to meal for me.

5. Canned white beans. I love a simple bean salad of white beans (drained and rinsed), olive oil, lemon, garlic, rosemary and lots of black pepper. Thanks to my sister, Pat, for introducing me to this easy side dish (main dish if I am home alone)...change it up by adding finely diced red pepper or sliced green onion or a good handful of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese...or your own favorite add-in.

Spinach Artichoke Dip (Variation of Alton Brown's recipe)

1 10-ounce box thawed, chopped frozen spinach
1 14-ounce box thawed, chopped frozen artichoke hearts
9 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Extra shredded Parmesan for topping

1. Heat oven to 375F. Squeeze spinach with your hands to extract any excess moisture. Chop artichoke hearts roughly--don't go crazy. 
2. Place spinach, artichokes, cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, Parmesan, red pepper flakes, salt and garlic powder into large bowl. Mix well. 
3. Spoon mixture into 9-inch pie dish. Smooth top. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan. Bake until bubbling and starting to brown on top. (You could also heat this for about 4 or 5 minutes in the microwave--get it good and hot.)

Serve hot with pita chips or bagel chips, sliced bread (a spoon! MMm.) This makes a lot--maybe even 4 cups. Promise I'll measure it next time I make it...It's good cold, too, straight out of the fridge. Or try it as a spread on a grilled/griddled panini with turkey, for example... This dip would make anything taste great. It's the bacon of dips...

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