How to Make Dinner with Stuff You Already Have

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After two epic failures in the kitchen this week (Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken that turned into shoe leather, and a Mango Lassi that tasted like air) I was semi scrambling to find something to share with you for dinner tonight.

Not wanting to spend more money on groceries, I decided to consult the stuff I already had in my pantry, fridge, and freezer, and came up with a totally customizable Kitchen Stash Supper. I cannot wait to use this simple recipe again and again in the future!

The Kitchen Stash Supper has four parts which are all made with kitchen and pantry staples: pasta, protein, and veggies, which are enveloped in a quick, 5 minute pan sauce.

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Not only can it be made with anything and everything you already have on hand, but it’s healthy, inexpensive, and damn good, to boot. :) Let’s get started, shall we?

Part 1: The Pasta

Start by cooking 8oz short pasta in boiling, salted water. You can use any kind you have in the pantry – farfalle, rotini, penne, gemelli, etc. I chose cavatappi, ’cause it’s mah fave.

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Cook the pasta until it’s al dente, then drain and set aside.

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Part 2: The Protein

Next chop 12oz of protein into bite-sized pieces. I chose 2 chicken breasts which I seasoned with salt & pepper, then sauteed in a large skillet over medium heat in 2 teaspoons olive oil. If you don’t have chicken, try shrimp, tofu, or even steak!

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After the protein is cooked, set it aside.

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Part 3: The Veggies

Now chop 2 cups veggies, then saute them in 2 teaspoons olive oil, using the same skillet as the chicken. This is the fun part because you can use any combo of vegetables you’ve got on hand. Corn, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, zucchini, brussels sprouts, fresh, frozen, canned – whatever you’ve got! I used 1/2 cup each mushrooms, broccoli, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes.

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Cook the veggies starting with the ones that take the longest (mushrooms and broccoli for my combo) then keep adding the others along the way. Once the veggies are cooked, remove them to the plate with the protein.

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Part 3: The Sauce

The sauce component of the Kitchen Sink Supper wraps the pasta, protein and veggies together in a luscious, creamy hug. Once again, it’s made in the same skillet as the protein & veggies!

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Start by melting 1 Tablespoon butter, then sprinkle in 2 Tablespoons flour.

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Whisk the butter and flour together, then let it cook for about 30 seconds.

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Next, slowly pour in 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth while whisking to break up the flour clumps. Do this in batches, a few Tablespoons of broth at a time, until the sauce is smooth.

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Season with salt & pepper, then let it bubble until thickened, about a minute or so.

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This next part is optional, but it kind of makes the dish taste like Mac & Cheese! Turn the heat off, then add 2oz soft cheese to the sauce. Any soft cheese will do – chevre, cream cheese, Laughing Cow, or even shredded cheddar.

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Stir the cheese in until it’s smooth and creamy. I used chevre because it melts like a dream!

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Assembly

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Add the cooked pasta, chicken, and veggies to the sauce in the skillet.

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Top with 1/4 cup basil or parsley, if you want, then mix everything together.

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Oh baby…

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Cleaning out the kitchen never tasted so good!

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Kitchen Stash Supper

Print this recipe!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
8oz cavatappi (or any short pasta: farfalle, rotini, penne, gemelli, , etc.)
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (or 12oz of another protein)
salt & pepper
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped veggies (mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, corn, peas, etc.)
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable)
2oz chevre (or another soft cheese: cream cheese, Laughing Cow, shredded cheddar) – optional
1/4 cup chopped basil (or parsley) – optional

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then saute until no longer pink in the center. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in the same skillet. Add shallot and garlic, then saute for 30 seconds. Add vegetables, longer cooking ones first, season with salt and pepper, then saute until tender. Remove to the same plate as the chicken.
  4. Melt butter in the same skillet. Sprinkle in flour, then whisk and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in chicken broth a little at a time, whisking to break up any clumps. Season with salt and pepper, then let cook for 1-2 minutes, or until thick and bubbly. Remove skillet from the heat, then add in cheese and stir to melt.
  5. Add cooked pasta, chicken, vegetables, and basil to the sauce in the skillet, then stir to combine.

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Creamy, filling, satisfying, and fresh. I love this 1-2-3-4 simple supper combo!

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Once you’ve got the ratios down, it’s a breeze to make. Just remember – 8oz pasta, 12oz protein, 2 cups veggies, and then the sauce recipe (which isn’t too hard to remember.)

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This is perfect for those nights when you’re feeling uninspired or just creatively blocked in the kitchen. It doesn’t hurt that it also clears up room in the pantry, leaving you with more room for things like, oh I don’t know, Doritos Jacked.

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In other news, your Grandparent stories had me nodding, giggling, and sniffing yesterday and today. It’s funny how similar our relationships with them can be, yet so unique and special. :)

Well I’m off to enjoy the evening. Who’s ready for Friday?!

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Comments

  1. JennP 05.10.2012

    This looks similar to my easy “no shopping required” dinner on busy weeknights! We do penne, chicken, peas, tomatoes, mushrooms and a light cream sauce. It’s hubby and 2 year old approved!

  2. Jeremiah 05.10.2012

    great way to improvise. i think people put too much stock on recipes and are afraid to dig in and make something that tastes good.

  3. This looks yummy! I’m glad to hear that you too have kitchen failures…sometimes when I make something and it ends up being a flop, I feel like I’m the only person who that happens to…good to know even food bloggers have not stellar results sometimes! :)

  4. Lauren 05.10.2012

    Woo for Friday! As you would say TGIalmostF. I just love the customizable-ness of this recipe!

  5. Kristin 05.10.2012

    Mmmm that looks so good. The sauce looks amazing. I would probably use that quinoa pasta to add some extra protein if I didn’t have any chicken or other meat. I think you’ve posted about that type of pasta before — now I buy it all the time!

  6. Nice! This reminds me of our go-to quickie pasta lunch: organic mac & cheese (box) with steamed broccoli and chopped red bell pepper. Add extra cheese and LOTS of pepper. Viola! Tasty lunch.

  7. I love easy dinners like this one but usually struggle to figure out a good sauce to tie everything together. This one will definitely become a new staple in my house! Thanks!!

  8. Katie 05.10.2012

    I love the idea behind this. Hopefully it will encourage me to branch out a little bit and try to cook without a set recipe.

  9. Jim Simmons 05.10.2012

    nice to know i am not the only who has bad days in the kitchen. this one could be eaten hot or cold? the sauce looks like a keeper,.

  10. Amy S. 05.10.2012

    So perfect that I came across this tonight! Scrambling to get dinner made for 2 little ones and a hungry hubby :) Love your blog, thanks so much!!

  11. Trisha 05.10.2012

    It’s a raid the “cupboards for dinner” kind of evening here too. It’s far too beautiful outside to waste any time at the grocery store. ;)
    Given this gorgeous weather, I’ve decided to start my weekend early with a drink on the patio. Waiting for Friday is for the birds!

    • Trisha 05.10.2012

      Ughh, “raid the cupboards for dinner”, my quotation mark jumped ahead of me…

  12. These are some of my favorite types of meals – just thrown together from stuff I have around! I love to mix quinoa, some type of cheese, and veggies. Always good!

  13. I am just wrapping up my work day and pasta is official on the dinner menu! Thanks for another delicious, practical recipe :)

  14. Jamie 05.10.2012

    Oh man. I wish I had seen this 15 minutes ago! I just ordered a pizza.

  15. Morgaine Brindle 05.10.2012

    I see dinner for tomorrow! What an excellent formula!

  16. I came across this just when I was deciding what to make for dinner – perfect!! Thanks so much!

  17. YUP! This is my kind of dinner. And that’s my fave kind of pasta too :) Thanks for the quick sauce recipe!

  18. Love this. I’m always doing “clean out your fridge/pantry” meals (especially right before we need to get groceries…funny how that works), and you have done a great job of breaking it down into steps and giving new ideas. I’m a huge fan of not wasting food, and this is a great way to get it all eaten deliciously:)

  19. Samantha 05.11.2012

    I make a similar dish that my mom dubbed “Christmas pasta” because of the bright colors. Mine is

    1 box o’pasta
    1 package of chicken sausage
    1 16 oz. bag of frozen spinach, thawed
    Any and all veggies available, but especially great with yellow and red bell peppers, zucchini & tomats
    Parm and olive oil to taste

    That’s it! The spinach coats the pasta and makes it seem like a spinach “sauce” when there’s nothing to it. Makes a ton and is great for leftovers too :)

  20. Angela 05.11.2012

    I love this, why didn’t I think of it?!?! :)

  21. Michele A. 05.11.2012

    Your cheesy white sauce sealed the deal for me! You have such wonderful meal ideas – thank you for sharing them with us!! :)

  22. Nicole Lee 05.11.2012

    It is nice to know that I am not the only one who has epic fails in the kitchen. My husband and I always resort to frozen pizza when one of my “its going to be so good” recipes is not so good. I love your blog and read it everyday. Have a great day.

  23. OMG! I did this recently and didn’t even know that I had! I had chicken, canned tomatoes, pasta, and a ricotta sauce (was in my fridge). It was a FAIL because my pasta to protein ratio was off. (Note to self: Less pasta more protein so I can taste the protein!)

    I LOVE how you put it into 4 parts. This is absolutely a perfect, simple way to use up what’s already in my pantry, fridge, and freezer.

    I can’t tell you how much I love this and will be using it in the future… Thank you!

  24. Mark 05.11.2012

    Awesome Idea! It’s a healthy twist on an old college favorite. I like it!

  25. Love this recipe! I get to use up all my leftover veggie ingredients!

  26. Kersten 05.14.2012

    Made this tonight. AWESOME! I’m embarrassed to say I did use some Velveeta for the cheese! Had to use it up – was getting old! But daughter ate peas and mushrooms which she NEVER does! A hit!

  27. That looks delicious! May definitely have to try this!

  28. […] few weeks ago, I saw this recipe “Kitchen Stash Supper” from Iowa Girl Eats. I love every single recipe she posts and this one I especially could not […]

  29. […] Kitchen Stash Supper […]

  30. Ashley 01.26.2014

    I made this yesterday, and my husband was a little skeptical when I said what was for dinner. But when we ate it, it was so delicious! We used one of those steamables packs you get from the freezer aisle that had broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and cheese. And then we added a little more cheese with cayenne pepper, garlic, and paprika. Thank you so much for such an easy and delicious meal!

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