Cleaning Out the Pantry

When food preparation has been neglected, it’s only natural that the Pantry organization would also be neglected.  Today I tackled the Pantry.  Well, actually, I had tackled it a few days ago, but all these bits and pieces were still in ziplock bags, waiting for their permanent homes.

There was all kinds of stuff, some of it, to be honest, I didn’t want to keep, but Daryl said he’d eat it, so I durifully put it in a jar.  I found rice crackers, rye crackers, dried onions, dried zucchini…

…dried beets, dried peaches, and some hard black beans that we grew in the garden last year.  I decided to put them all in jars, so I could easily SEE what was inside, and to be doubly sure, I added some labels.  Now, I just have to figure out how I can use these bits and pieces, and turn them into yummy food.  I don’t know about those beets.  Where in the world did they come from anyway??? 🙂

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Quick Pasta Lunch

Fridays are always busy around here, so I opted for a very easy lunch of pasta, spaghetti sauce from a jar, green salad, and boiled broccoli.  I love these noodles from Costco.  One bag is just enough for our family of 5.

I made another green salad, this time adding cold peas, avocados, carrots and tomatoes.  This is my salad before it was tossed!  I also had some croutons that I was able to serve with the salad today.  I love the crunch of a crouton!!

I did add some TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) to the spaghetti sauce.  It is a vegetarian, meaty type of food that can be boiled, and then gently fried, something like hamburger.  I added 3 cloves of garlic chopped, 1/4 cup dried onions, sauteed them together, and then added those to the veggie meat, before adding it all into the spaghetti sauce, giving it a heartier taste.
The broccoli is boiled for 1 minute, and served with simple mayo.  It was a quick and easy meal, perfect for a Friday lunch!

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Home Canned Breakfast Toppings

This is a pretty typical breakfast for us…nothing really new or amazing, but a satisfaction in eating things we’ve canned ourselves!  I made whole grain pancakes and topped it with almond butter.  It’s not homemade, though I know how to do it, but conveniently from Costco.  My kids don’t like it, so I get it all to myself!!  Then I added some home canned applesauce, and some homemade raspberry syrup! 

I just discovered that I can pour the juice off the home canned raspberries, add a little sugar, thicken with cornstarch, and make a delicious, sweet, syrup for pancakes.  No more Log Cabin in this house!!  We grow raspberries in an abundance, can over 100 quarts each year, so I should always have a yummy supply of raspberry juice to make raspberry syrup. 

And finally, I topped my creation with Cool Whip.  The eggs are storebought, but we should have our own eggs by the end of the summer, and the orange juice is frozen from a can.  It was a great breakfast!!

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Just For Fun!

 I’m just having so much fun with my phone!!! It’s like a permanent piece of my wardrobe now, and I use it for everything!  I have a huge list of favorite apps, and it keeps me on track because I’ve set alarms for myself.  I feel like I”m in school again with the bell ringing each hour! I love that I can blog straight from my phone to blogger.  It sure makes it a quick and effortless procedure now!  
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Tofu Pizza for Supper


Tofu.  I think for most people it’s a love or hate relationship.  For the rest, I don’t think they even know it exists!  I learned about Tofu many years ago during college days, and during a time of my life when I was trying to be a strict Vegan.  I never could quite drop all the dairy…a girl has to have a bowl of ice cream now and then…but for quite a while, instead of a scrambled egg on my breakfast plate, there would be scrambled Tofu. 
Tofu comes in a brick, either packaged in water, or packaged air tight, and normally, I crumble it to look like this at first.


It is known to be very bland, and it’s all about the seasoning when it comes to Tofu.  There are many ways to season it, but I use just one way, about 99% of the time.

For this recipe, which came completely out of my head, I decided to put in some red onion, several cloves of garlic chopped, some cilantro, and some yellow peppers.  I soon realized that the orange or red bell pepper would have been a better choice, since I use McKays Chicken Style seasoning and Turmeric to turn the Tofu yellow anyways.  But I stirred it all together, and it soon looked like this.

Mmmm!  The smell of the garlic filled the house!

I used my handy little Vizalia Chopper, from Target (they also have them at Bed Bath & Beyond), one of my absolute favorite little gadgets in my kitchen.  I’ll do a whole post about it when I make pizza, since I have to chop lots of things for our pizza toppings, but for now, I’ll just say that this little chopper is fast, easy, and EFFORTLESS!!  It takes slices of bell peppers, and turns them into this in seconds.

The pieces are all the same size and ready for any number of uses!

Once my tofu was ready, I used one of my tiny little scoopers, and put a scoop on each little piece of rye bread.  I purchased these loaves at Costco during the holidays, and never ended up using them.  They’ve been in my freezer since Christmas, and it was time to figure out a way to use this cute little bread.  Kaelyn used a fork to make the tofu more flat, because we were not done loading up our little pizzas!

We added tomato slices and/or olives on one cookie sheet…

…and tomato, olives and/or cheese on the next.  Darien won’t each cheese, so we always have to make some without for him.  The rest of us like it either way. 
Once they were built, we broiled them for a few minutes under the broiler, until the edges of the bread were crispy and toasty brown.

I remembered too late that I should have lined my pan with foil.  Oh well, next time.  I’m hoping those things will begin to come naturally to me as I spend more time in my kitchen.

We rounded out the meal with our wonderful muffins and some cherries.  It was a great supper, and there was nothing leftover when we were finished.

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Light and Summery Lunch

Today was anything but light and summery.  It was cloudy, gray, and raining for most of the day.  I took advantage of the gloomy day and spent a lot of time in my kitchen.  This is what I came up with for lunch.

 The rice, which we call “Jennifer Rice” (since I got the recipe from my friend Jennifer), was leftover from a couple days ago.  I made a quick green salad with lettuce, shredded carrot, avocado, tomatoes, and zucchini, which was leftover from my muffin project and I was wondering how in the world I was going to use it and not end up giving it to the chickens!!   I also had homemade bread from last week, that was thawed last night out of the freezer, sliced some tomato and avocado, and had corn on the cob.  I think this is going to be one of my favorite summer meals!!  It was light, easy, and pretty quick to put together. We also had a muffin for dessert!  
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Zucchini Pumpkin Muffins

I have these great little cookbooks that are Muffins only!  They’re called, “Muffins”, and “More Muffins” by Jean Childress.  There are several recipes that we love from those books, but I think this was a new one.  It has shot to the top of our “favorite muffins” list.  I’m a little surprised because it has raisins AND chopped almonds, two things my kids usually aren’t crazy about in a muffin.

I wanted to show how clean the Pampered Chef muffin pan is when the muffins pop out.  All I did was twist them in the pan, and then lift them right out.  Nothing ever sticks, and you can literally just wipe it out with a paper towel, it’s that easy to clean them.

Since I made two different recipes, I used a large can of Pumpkin.  Based on this 1/2 cup leftover, and the 3 cups that were used in the muffin recipes, I know now that a large can of pumpkin is basically 3 1/2 cups of pumpkin.  I don’t understand why cans are packaged in oz. instead of cups.  It would be so much easier of each can was 1 cup, or 2 cups, since that is the way we measure here in the states.  This is not quite a full 1/2 cup leftover, but one of the cups I put in the muffins was very generous, so I think it’s a pretty good guesstimate.

The recipe called for slivered almonds, chopped, so I used my handy little chopper thingy, that you pound with your hand, and it springs up and down, making this job quick and very easy.

I mixed my muffins in my Kitchen Aid mixer, one of my favorite appliances in my teeny, tiny kitchen.  I have so little counter space, that I have a rule about what can use up that space.  If it isn’t used at least 4-5 times per week, it doesn’t get to stay out on the counter.  My Kitchen Aid is on my counter, along with my Vita Mix and Toaster.  Those are the only appliances that make the cut!!

My kitchen is so small, we don’t have a dishwasher, so it is very important to always have the sink full of soapy water, so cleanup is fast and easy, and food doesn’t have time to harden on the dishes.

Here I have turned the muffins to cool right in the muffin tin.  I had already used up all my space on my cooling racks, so had to go with plan B to cool the muffins for this batch.

The Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins are in the back, while the Zucchini Pumpkin Muffins are in the front.  The single batch of Zucchini Pumpkin Muffins made a little more than a dozen, so I baked the excess in a tiny bread pan.

 The darker muffin is the one with the chocolate chips in it.  I prefer the Zucchini ones, but BOTH types of muffins are excellent! 

(I got this recipe from More Muffins by Jean Childress p. 6)


  • 1 Cup Whole wheat flour
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Allspice
  • 3 Whole Eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup Cooked Pumpkin
  • 1 Cup Grated Zucchini
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped, slivered almonds
  • 3/4 Cup Raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 375. In large bowl, combine first 7 ingredients. In separate bowl, beat eggs with oil. Add pumpkin & zucchini. Mix lightly. Stir pumpkin mix into dry ingredients. Fold in almonds & raisins. Spoon batter into greased muffin tin & bake 20 min. LOVE this recipe!!


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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Today I stayed home and baked.  It seems Thursdays work well for baking.  Last Thursday, I made bread, and this Thursday I made muffins.  I had the kids bring their schoolwork upstairs to the kitchen table so I could oversee things while I made the muffins.  I’ll just say right now, they were AMAZING!!  (that is, the muffins!)

I am not a Pampered Chef distributor, so there is no personal gain when I say, Pampered Chef muffin tins are hands down, THE VERY BEST pan out there for baking muffins.  I do spray them with a bit of Pam, but the muffins just fall out of them when they’re done.

 Another tool that I cannot say enough about is my “scooper”.  I have these in all kinds of sizes and use them as much as I possibly can.  I love the uniform size and shape that I get when I use a scooper!

Somewhere I’ve read that if you have any extra spaces in the muffin tin, fill it with some water before baking.  I guess this is better for your pan.  I’m not sure of the technical reason, but it sounded good to me, so when I doubled this recipe, and there was only enough dough/batter for 23 muffins, I went ahead and filled the last space with water before I baked it.

 The finished product!  I thought these would be too sweet with the chocolate chips, but they are amazing!  I will definitely make these again. Since I had all the ingredients out, I decided to try another Pumpkin Muffin recipe, which I’ll show in my next post.  

(I got this recipe from More Muffins by Jean Childress p. 25)


  • 1 1/2 Flour
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 Whole Eggs
  • 1 Cup Cooked Pumpkin
  • 1/2 Cup Butter (Melted)
  • 1 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips


  1. Preheat Oven to 350. Grease or line muffin tin. Combine dry ingredients & set aside. In large bowl, beat eggs. Stir in pumpkin, melted butter & chocolate chips. Blend well. Add dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Spoon into muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes. These are really sweet and yummy. Can almost be a dessert.


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