Monday, August 27, 2012

Cleaning out the pantry

Today begins a couple week of trying to clean out the freezer and pantry of all the various items I've bought but never got around to using.

I read last week that Americans waste as much as 40% of their food. That's crazy. I don't want to be a waster. So I'm going to get back into planning meals again and buying for those meals specifically. I hope to shop one big trip once a month, little produce runs once a week (with a strict list) and the last week of the month will be "pantry creations."

Yesterday I listed everything in our pantry, fridge and freezer, then found meals that use those items. I'll probably have to pick up a couple things here or there - I might need more spinach later this week - but for the most part, we have plenty to eat.

Tonight's meal is Thai Curry Soup. It uses chicken stock I had frozen, frozen chicken breasts, spinach leftover from the salad I made this weekend, rice noodles I've had too long and some red curry paste I bought on clearance at Kroger a while back but hadn't opened. I'll try to come back and post the soup recipe later...after I eat it!

This weekend I made some chipotle cashews that were awesome too. I'll post that recipe below:

Chipotle Cashews

1 lb cashews - unsalted
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp oil (I used olive)
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chipotle pepper powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 300. Mix all ingredients except the cashews in a small bowl until well blended. Toss cashews with the spice mixture. Spread cashews in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes - Keep an eye on the cashews, at first I put them in at too high of a temperature and they started to burn, so I might be a little off on the time.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cool, pack in an airtight container. Try not to eat all of them at once!

Thai Curry Soup

2 oz thai rice noodles
1 tbsp oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp red curry paste

32 oz chicken broth
2 tbsp tamari sauce
1 tbsp sugar (I used agave nectar)
1 (13.5 oz) can lite coconut milk
8 oz cooked chicken, diced
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 10-oz bag baby spinach leaves
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add rice noodles and cook following noodle instructions. Drain and rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking; set aside. 

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic and ginger; cook and stir until aromatic, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the curry paste, and cook 30 seconds more. Pour in about 1/2 cup of the chicken broth, and stir until the curry paste has dissolved, then pour in the remaining chicken stock along with the soy sauce and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.Stir in coconut milk, chicken, mushrooms, spinach, lime juice, and cilantro and simmer 20 minutes.   

To serve, place some rice noodles into each serving bowl and ladle soup on top of them. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of sliced green onion. Makes 4 servings.

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