Shop and Cook From Your Pantry!

April 14, 2020

One of the precious few “good things” happening as a result of the COVID stay-at-home guidelines are family dinners – and lunches and breakfasts. We’re experiencing the joys of eating together – regularly – and experimenting with our stash of fridge, freezer and pantry staples and sometimes recipe substitutions.

Creative Recipes from Food-on-Hand Apps

It took a pandemic for us to discover these cool apps that can help you find recipes for what you have on hand, in your fridge, pantry and freezer. It’s a little like an episode from that Food Network series Chopped, with chefs challenged to concoct something appetizing from a basket full of impossible ingredients! 

Super Cook helps you waste less food and eat delicious meals. This website is simple to navigate and you can either download software to your phone for iOS or visit the website. Start by selecting the ingredients you already have on hand. You’ll find several categories – meat, seasonings, dairy – and as you add to your list SuperCook suggests recipes from Food & Wine, Just a Pinch, Epicurious, Martha Stewart, Cookstr, and more. About 4,000 people have given the app a 4.8 rating out of 5.0, so check it out!

The AllRecipes Dinner Spinner app is another tool that lets you spin through a combination of options by dish type. And Big Oven has more than half-a-million recipes in its database – which is why they call it Big. You’ll find categories like “use up leftovers,” and meat-free recipes, or snacks. More apps here, from the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, that enable you to search by main ingredient or recipe type.

Tasty.CO comes through for what’s-on-hand meals with 19 no-fuss reicpes you can make with what’s already in your fridge and pantry. From Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burrito Bowls, to Five Minute Pizzas you can create with pitta bread, naan or English muffins. You’ll see pasta salads, baked balsamic and teriyaki chicken, and Everything but the Kitchen Sink Soup, among others.

My Fridge Food is an online app for quick kitchen concoctions based on what you have, as well. For example, if you check the boxes – like we did – for bacon, chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms and panko/breadcrumbs you’ll see recipes like Bacon Wrapped Stuffing, Easy Crockpot Chicken, Mayo-less Chicken Salad and Tomato Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Not sure where that last one came from, but since we happen to also have some pasta and cheese maybe it’s more than a little intuitive!

Substitutes for Eggs, Sugar and Milk

Want to bake and you can’t spare the eggs you have set aside for breakfasts? Use ¼ cup of applesauce. No cream of tartar in your spice drawer? Use distilled white vinegar or lemon juice. The Auburn University website has a starter list with substitutions for several common ingredients that are helpful when you’re running low and don’t want to chance a trip to the grocery store.

Becky Krystal, who writes for the Washington Post, took the egg substitution possibilities a step further. She says look at the purpose the egg is serving – if it’s for moisture and binding, possible substitutions include yogurt, mayo, tofu with milk or aquafaba. Aquafaba, in case you’ve never seen it in a sentence, is the magical liquid from a can of beans or from cooking beans. Two tablespoons of the stuff can stand in for one egg white and is a staple for vegans with its combination of carbs, proteins and plant solids. 

Considering all the possibilities, Kitchn tried eight different egg substitutes for baking and while it’s pretty hard to beat an egg for all the protein and essential amino acids they contain, chose a clear winner.

Laurie Neverman, blogging for The Common Sense Home provides substitute options for her recipes, and this printable list of ingredients, from white sugar, brown sugar and chocolate substitutions to bread crumbs, broth, cooking spray and milk will help you “shop” from your pantry instead of the grocery store.

Easy Comfort Food Recipes

In the New York Times Cooking section, David Tanis offers the ultimate comfort food recipe – no not mac ‘n’ cheese, Spicy Meatballs with Chickpeas. The beauty of his recipe is that you can use any ground meat – beef, pork, turkey or lamb and prepare it up to two days ahead of serving. 

Combining the aromatic spices of cumin, coriander and cinnamon, you can also get creative with the tomato gravy and add cayenne and/or saffron. You can use dry chickpeas – soaked overnight and cooked for an hour, or six cups of cooked chickpeas. Topped with chopped cilantro and parsley, this dish will perfume the air in your kitchen with mouth-watering temptation.

And if you have a craving for veggies, here’s a garlicky greens recipe that you can use with just about any leafy dark green vegetables, from spinach and kale to chard and collards. All in all, we were pretty blown away by the creativity of chefs to come up with substitutions for staples we tend to run out of.  

Miles of Walkable Paths in Southshore

Hike and Bike at Aurora ReservoirResidents in the master-planned community of Southshore are welcoming spring with bike rides and long walks on the miles of paths around the nearby lake – 820 acres of water in the Aurora Reservoir. Check out the beautiful models built by Colorado’s finest home builders – via virtual tours and drive-bys! Brand new homes from Taylor Morrison, Richmond American Homes and Toll Brothers offer Life at the Lake in ranch and two-story designs, priced between the $400s and the $700s.