Protect the Pantry Series: Introduction

I have a bad habit that I’m sure many of you have as well… I’m a sucker for a GREAT DEAL or and AMAZING FIND. I’ll just call it what it is, I’m an impulse buyer. This is is true for me when it comes to clothing shopping and even grocery shopping. I love finding cool pantry items at Trader Joes and Aldi… the issue is that I end up with a pantry full of food items that I probably wont use or might expire before I get to try them.

I don’t think anyone is to blame.

American’s are blessed to have access to food, water, restaurants, and the best grocery stores. We love buffets, order the full portion and leave half to be dumped instead of ordering the half portion, shop at warehouse stores, and freeze extra food that we know we’ll never eat. We’ve got to do better. I’ve got to do better.

The National Resources Defense Council states that, “Store promotions leading to bulk purchases or purchases of unusual products often result in consumers buying foods outside their typical meal planning, which then gets discarded.” I’m guilty of this and I’ve got to do better.

According to feedingamerica.org, “An estimated 25 – 40% of food grown, processed and transported in the US will never be consumed” and even worse is that “More food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in municipal solid waste.”

I’ll be the first to admit that historically, I don’t do such a great job trying to avoid food waste. I cook a lot and because I’m a “food blogger” I try out lots of different foods and recipes and sometimes it’s more than my husband and I can enjoy together.

My hope is to create a “series” of posts that encourage you to use food items you might have sitting in your pantry or to avoid buying more than you need. Some of these posts might be my own recipes or I might share some foods I made using recipes from other bloggers. Other ideas might encourage recycling leftovers into lunches and other dinner meals or providing suggestions for better portions.

Hopefully this will be ongoing. I’ll do my best to share my thoughts and attempts to protect my pantry and the food I order and/or bring into my home.

Join in on the conversation with me. How do you protect your pantry and avoid food waste?

Follow along on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with #ProtectThePantry and @PinchPlateParty

SOURCES:

https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf

http://www.feedingamerica.org/about-us/how-we-work/securing-meals/reducing-food-waste.html

Sometimes breaks are needed, but I’ll be back!

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It’s been a while. I’ve had 6 drafts sitting on my site. 6 fully or partially written drafts that I just haven’t haven’t felt compelled to post.

The first is about my easy mashed potatoes. The second is a post about our Asheville trip and a restaurant that had oysters on almost every menu item (even in the beer). The third is “tales of travel” from the cruise we took last year. The fourth, a quick no recipe lunch. The 5th, a gift guide for the foodies in your life. The final, is a recipe for one of my “famous” Sweet by Lauren cakes.

They’ve all been there but for some reason I felt they haven’t been worthy of the blog.

In the last 6 months I’ve done so much: reached goals, traveled, cooked, entertained, and none of it has been documented here. I hosted Easter brunch for the second year in a row. I graduated from graduate school and became only one of two women in my immediate family to do so. My sister had her second child and I threw what I thought was one of the most fun events I’ve thrown in a while for her shower.  I’ve traveled to Florida twice, South Carolina, and North Carolina. So many great meals, events, and recipes but all still in my head or scribbled on a piece of paper somewhere.

Life has happened and for some reason I haven’t been compelled to share. I know that blogging is just an opportunity for me to share a little bit of my life with you and my goal is to do better.

A little pinch here and there can create one of the best plates you’ve ever seen! Hopefully those plates can turn into an amazing party! The purpose of this blog is to share that with you!

I hope you enjoy every step of my journey as I continue to share my life with you.

More to come soon and don’t worry, I’ll definitely be posting that cake recipe!

Red Curry and Shrimp

I love seafood and I love flavor. My typical seafood seasonings are salt, pepper, old-bay, garlic, and some other traditional seasonings. After a brief conversation with my husband regarding his new love of curry, I knew I needed to try some “upgraded” flavors for my seafood dishes.

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Have you ever combined red curry, coconut milk, seafood, and spinach? I hadn’t… but now that I have, my eyes have been opened to a new world of flavor combinations. I found a recipe from PaleoLeap.com and adapted their Curried Shrimps and Spinach recipe (already delicious) into a slightly elevated and non-paleo feast.

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The traditional curry most people find in stores is a yellow curry. I decided to give red curry a try since it was a special item for sale at Aldi recently. Red curry and yellow curry are similar but have a slightly different profile. The red curry is a little spicier than the traditional style. It’s amazing that I’ll see one simple item at a grocery store and develop an entire meal around that one item.

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If you’ve never made shrimp stock you need to learn how to now! Shrimp stock is a staple in New Orleans style cooking that adds a delicious seafood flavor to your meals. It can be used to replace chicken or vegetable stock in recipes. For my red curry shrimp recipe I used shrimp stock in my recipe to give my sauce a seafood flavor without overcooking the shrimp.

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I also boiled my rice in the shrimp stock instead of water to give it a little extra flavor. To make the stock you boil shrimp heads and shells in water (or chicken stock) for about 20 minutes and strain so that only the liquid remains. I like to call my shrimp stock… liquid gold.

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This meal turned out much better than I expected. it will probably become a staple in our home. My husband gave it the seal of approval and I must admit, it was quite delicious. If you’re looking for a slightly exotic recipe that’s relatively quick and easy. Check out my Red Curry and Shrimp recipe below!

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  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Shrimp Stock

  • 1.5 lb shrimp with shells and heads still on
  • 5 cups water

Rice

  • 1 1/2 cups short grain rice
  • 2 cups shrimp stock

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red curry powder
  • 3/4 cup shrimp stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3 cups chopped spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Shrimp Stock

  1. Peel, remove heads, and clean shrimp. Set the shrimp aside for recipe use.
  2. In a medium sized stock pot combine shrimp heads, shells, and 5 cups water.
  3. Bring water and shell mixture to a boil and continue to boil for at least 15 minutes. The longer the mixture cooks, the more flavor the stock will have. If you cook longer than 20 minutes be sure to lower the heat to low so the mix can simmer.
  4. Pour shell mixture through a strainer into a container, saving liquid and discarding shells.
  5. Any unused stock and be frozen for later use.

Rice

  1. In a small saucepan combine 2 cups shrimp stock and 1.5 cups short grain rice.
  2. Bring to boil.
  3. Once boiling, cover and simmer over low for 20 minutes.
  4. Fluff rice with fork, re-cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve warm.

Sauce

  1. Heat coconut oil over medium heat.
  2. Add in onion and cook, stirring occasionally until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add red curry powder and stir to combine.
  4. Transfer onion mixture to a blender or food processor and add in 3/4 cup shrimp stock and tomato paste.
  5. Blend or pulse mixture until pureed and smooth.
  6. Pour puree mixture back to pan, add coconut milk.
  7. Cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, stirring to combine.
  8. Salt and pepper sauce to taste.
  9. Mix in shrimp and spinach until spinach is wilted and shrimp are pink.
  10. Serve over rice.

*Recipe adapted from Paleo Leap Curried Shrimps and Spinach.