2015 Winter Pantry Challenge: Day Twenty-Three

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This month our family is participating in a Pantry Challenge. We’re focusing on using up what we have in order to save money and time as well as to reduce waste.

Queso fundido

That is one of our family’s most favorite dishes, Queso Fundido. In the past, I’ve served it in a large pie plate, but since we were served it in individual serving dishes near Spain last fall, I’ve taken to doing the same at home. Everyone loves having their own dish! I think we eat more calmly, too, because we’re not worried about someone hogging it all from the communal dish.

It just so happened that I had a package of Italian sausage in the freezer as well as some cooked ground beef. I combined the two with chopped onion and some red pepper flakes and topped them with pepper jack cheese. Hubs made a batch of Homemade Corn Tortillas to go with. Lunch, needless to say, was pretty amazing.

Earlier in the day I made Mix and Match Muffins with Apricot Jam and mini chocolate chips. For dinner we had Poblano Enchiladas. It was a pretty tasty day!

I’m a little late with the week three update. I’m hoping to get to it tomorrow morning. Thanks for your patience!

Breakfast: Mix and Match Muffins

Lunch: Queso Fundido and Homemade Corn Tortillas

Dinner: Poblano Enchiladas

How is the challenge going for YOU?

Im-Taking-Pantry-ChallengeThis post is part of the 2015 Winter Pantry Challenge. Read through the archives to catch up.

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  1. Breakfast: strawberry crumble with cream
    Lunch: l/o red beans
    Dinner: l/o chorizo ravioli, garlic bread, salad
    Dessert: ice cream
    Late snack: BBQ popchips

  2. Stephanie M. says:

    The challenge is going very well for me. I have cleaned out my freezer of a lot of things and the one in my kitchen is empty now. My pantry is really clearing out and my refrigerator even has more room in it due to us eating all the small odds and ends in there (i.e. last of the pickles and pepperoncini), etc. I was hoping to have both freezers empty but there were so many things in there that when cooked, yielded a couple of days worth of leftovers. I will continue on till the job is done though. I did take some inventory of my freezer today and realize I am completely out of breakfast items in there. My hubby takes breakfast with him to work every day so it’s always nice to have something ready besides cereal. As we wait for winter storm Juno to arrive, Hubby spent the better part of the morning in the garage tuning up his snow blower while I spent the morning making breakfast freezer meals. I did not anticipate making as much as I did but once I got going, I couldn’t stop myself! 🙂 First I made individual breakfast bowls layered with cubed roasted potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon, grated cheddar, and chopped green onion; (just like Jimmy Dean!) Then I made pancakes, French toast, baked oatmeal, mini turkey sausage patties, and a breakfast casserole. Also, two days ago, I made an applesauce coffee cake and that’s in there too. I could never have done this without doing the pantry/freezer challenge. Because of that, I had plenty of space for all of this.

    B – Hubby had one of the breakfast bowls I made. I was busy and didn’t want to stop and eat.

    L – We both finished the leftover cold sub from last night.

    D – Hubby grilled hamburgers while he still could before this storm gets here. I also made baked beans and we used up the last of the onion rings.

    Dessert: Hubby had the second to the last piece of banana cake that I made a couple of weeks ago and froze in slices. One more piece to go.

    • Sounds like you are feeling better! The breakfast bowls sound like something the kid would love, so I have questions. 1) what kind of bowls do you put these in? 2) I’m assuming they microwave to heat up, but for how long?

      • I have the same questions. Am thinking of using some doubled paper bowls for these; they sound yummy. I think the commercial frozen ones are too salty.

        • Stephanie M. says:

          Hi Leslie:

          I use the disposable (even though I don’t dispose of them) Glad or Ziplock 2.5 cup size containers. If I don’t have those, I use the square sandwich size (3 cup) Rubbermaid containers. I’ve never used paper bowls. I wrote more detailed info on how to make these as a reply to Sandi if you’re interested. These are really quite good and I don’t add any salt at all because of the bacon and the cheese.

      • Stephanie M. says:

        Hi Sandy:

        Little by little I’m feeling better. Being up on my feet is fine but getting in and out of bed is another story; that hurts. I guess it just takes time.

        Anyway, breakfast bowls – I usually make three at a time and I freeze them in the throwaway Glad or Ziplock containers, 2.5 cup size. (This time, I ran out of those containers, so I used the Rubbermaid square 3 cup size; the kind you can put sandwiches in.) When I know I want to give one to my husband for work the next day, I take it out of the freezer and let it thaw on the counter. Then he only has to microwave it at work for about 2 minutes or till it’s hot. As far as measurements, for three, I usually cut up about 2 or 3 large potatoes – I leave the skin on, into small cubes. I put them on a cookie sheet with about 3 TBS. oil and roast them till just about done. Then I put them under the broiler for a few minutes just till they get brown and a little crispy. Meanwhile, I cook several slices of bacon and drain on paper towels and break into small pieces. Then, I break six eggs into a bowl and add a little light cream (optional), I just think the eggs come out creamier that way. When the potatoes are cooled down, I put them into the bowl first, then top with the eggs, the bacon, grated cheddar (however much you like) and finally, chopped green onions. You can also add a layer of salsa if you like on top of the potatoes. They freeze really well and make nice little meals for breakfast. If you don’t like bacon, you can always substitute ham or sausage.

        • Brilliant. I’ve always been worried that the scrambled eggs will be funny in the freezer. No? I might try this for my whole 30, without the cheese. Yum!

          • Stephanie M. says:

            I have to say with all honesty, that when heated up after being frozen, they taste like you just made them. Trust me, if they didn’t I would not freeze them; I would only make them fresh.

    • Yep. Same question here. I imagine you could stash them in quart size bags and transfer to whatever bowl also?

      • Stephanie M. says:

        Hi Jessica:

        Absolutely you can freeze them in bags. What a great idea! I never thought of that. 🙂 It might be easier with your large crowd to do it that way. Since I am only making them for my husband, I just give him the container because I only give him these for work, so there is no need for another bowl. I bet your family would love them!!

    • Heather M says:

      Glad to hear you’re able to get stuff done, despite the fall! Yay! And yay for productivity! Stay inside and warm this week and keep on healing!

      • Stephanie M. says:

        Hi Heather,

        You are such a great cheerleader to all of us! You always have something positive to say to everyone and that is so nice!! I hear where you are it’s not going to be as bad as by us. It’s just about 6:00 in the evening now on Monday night and I’m watching the weather channel all day. They said the peak of this storm will begin at 9:00 tonight and go till 9:00 tomorrow morning!! Oh my gosh!! Hubby has to sleep at work tonight and our daughter is at her girlfriend’s so I’m flying solo tonight; just me and my dogs and cat. So I will continue to watch the weather channel and look out the windows and maybe throw in a lifetime movie in between. I just got an e-mail from our friends in Germany telling us they are hearing all about the storm on TV. They live in a tiny little village in the Black Forest but that never stops them from knowing what’s going on with us. 🙂 And I have been ordered to let them know how the storm is progressing and if we are alright. It’s going to get very windy later and since I’m home all alone, I have nothing but time on my hands and will watch this all evening and dream of Spring.

        • I have to say, Stephanie, I’m a little snow-jealous. We keep getting cold and wet days that hover above freezing and this stupid storm is just minor amounts of snow. Wet and cold and not at all pretty. And also prone to icing. If it’s gonna be cold and “precipitate” just hand over some real snow, please, not a dusting to an inch. 😉

          Hope you’ve had a nice quiet uneventful evening at home and keep feeling better!

          • Stephanie M. says:

            Thanks Heather. It was a very nice quiet evening. I went to bed before it started snowing but when I woke up today and looked out the window, sure enough, there was snow. It wasn’t nearly as bad here as in Boston but enough that my husband will be doing some snow blowing when he gets home. It’s now almost noontime and it’s still snowing. To me, there’s nothing prettier than a beautiful snow storm while it’s happening but afterwards, especially after it gets all dirty, we can all live without that. Although I think everyone in this area is a little surprised because the weather people made it sound like we were really going to get plowed with a massive amount of snow. There were curfews in New Jersey and New York and state of emergencies everywhere. We have a decent amount of snow but I’ve seen worse. It’s enough though. I wouldn’t want to be in Boston right now. Those poor people will be looking at this snow until Easter!

            Thanks also for the well wishes. My back is on the mend but it still hurts especially when I get in and out of bed. And hubby can only give me a one-armed hug on the left side. 🙂 I cringe every time I feel like I’m going to sneeze! I guess a deep bruise like this takes some extra time to heal. Good thing I didn’t hit my head or I might be taking my dirt nap right now! Ha Ha

  3. It was a fun day today. Went to see Beauty and Beast with my daughter and 2 little granddaughters and before the show they had a lunch with the crew so we all really enjoyed it.

    Breakfast – Egg, bacon & cheese on English muffins
    Lunch – Pasta bar, salad and cupcakes before the show
    Dinner – Hot sausage w/peppers, tomatoes, onions and cheese on toasted buns, potato skins w/cheese & bacon

  4. Love those individual dishes in your photo! Where did you find them? So cute.

    Pretty good day here. College girl #2 stayed with us last night after a late-night babysitting job which meant we had a good breakfast.
    B: homemade biscuits with sausage gravy
    L: burgers & fries
    D: turkey salad sandwiches (used a pkg of chopped turkey from the freezer that was left from Thanksgiving), chips
    S: popcorn

  5. You went to Spain last fall? We didn’t see any pics of that!!

    • We were near the border. We didn’t actually cross. The French village we stayed in is Catalan, thus influenced by Spanish culture. Tapas are a thing there, as was Queso Fundido, even though they made it really different.

  6. I made a few loaves of banana bread. One of them had chocolate chips, and one didn’t. We finished off the loaf w the choc chips already, and have made quite a dent in the other.
    B- banana bread
    L- fried chicken and veggies with in laws
    D- gave in to the siren call of the $5 pizza. It was late, and I was unprepared. Ah, well. My family loved it.

  7. Jessica S says:

    Woke up to icy and snowy conditions… decided NOT to go anywhere…

    B- kids had a mix of cold cereal and cream of wheat.. I had eggs and banana, husband had banana and bagel
    L-clean out the fridge! Leftovers, ramen noodles, last of the lunchmeat, fruit
    D- Pantry night! Jar of pasta sauce, box of Penne, box of vegetarian chicken patties.. made a small salad of 1 heart of romain, handful of slavagable spinach, carrots, cheese and last of mini pepperoni slices.

    I had an unfortunate baking incident before Christmas.. Made lemon poundcakes but they got stuck in the paper bakeware I used.. I salvaged what cake I could and tossed into a gallon bag in freezer… I picked up stuff a few weeks ago to make cake balls so today was the day.. defrosted that bag and crumbled it more.. Had daughter mix in a container of lemon frosting..Scooped and froze the balls.. After dinner the kids helped melt down vanilla almond bark and dipped the cake balls… took the last of the melted bark and poured into a small pan and pressed in dried cranberries and crushed pretzles…
    Now to get creative again… School cancelled due to snow and hazerdous conditions.. no shopping today! lol

  8. Individual serving dishes – great idea! I’m going to try it and see if it flies for my picky eater – maybe having her own “special dish” will work!

    I am so thankful for this website and your sister site, Life As Mom. I’ve gotten so many good ideas and recipes from each, honestly, I couldn’t count them all.

    I just bought the juice book and it’s great!!

  9. Sunday was a busy day for us because we had a judo tournament. We ate breakfast at home, then had lunch out to celebrate our wins. I was too full for dinner, and no one else seemed terribly hungry either, so they just ate what they felt like.

    B-veggie burrito, tea

    L-chicken club on a biscuit with hand cut fries, my husband had a bleu buffalo chicken sandwich on a biscuit with same fries

    D-miscellaneous- soup and cottage cheese for younger son, older son had the rest of the baked ziti and apple crisp, husband had some chips and cheese/peanut butter and crackers.

    I need to make some banana muffins today to use up some of the frozen bananas I have in the freezer, and also I need to slice the ham I bought for lunch meat.

  10. B-oatmeal with blueberries from the freezer
    L- cheese crackers, fruit and veges_quick meal after church before getting the kids down for naps
    D- Turkey (from the freezer) mashed potatoes (all the potatoes are gone), rolls, peas, salad

    We will be eating a lot of turkey this week, but at least I got that 15 lb monster out of the freezer!

  11. That quest funding looks delicious!! Yum! So, day 23/Sunday was another good Challenge day. Made a quick morning run to the store and spent $32 on fresh produce, a baguette, tortillas, Thai red curry paste(by far the most expensive item at close to $5 but I love using it and we’re out), and a few bags of chips for the guys (sale!). Should be good for the week; will reevaluate toward the end of the week. As is typical, Sunday was a two-meal day.

    B:son finished the pancakes from day before, hubs had tangerines, and nothing for me
    D: after the store and before church I got a spicy chicken cacciatore stew going in the slow cooker. When we got home, I made mashed potatoes and a big salad. Delicious! We had brownies and apple spice cake for dessert (both made in my kitchen spree Saturday).

    • Heather M says:

      Sheesh the autocorrect is killing me here the past few days! I meant to say that queso fundido looked amazing!

  12. Not really doing the challenge per se but definitely trying to use what we do buy instead of eating out. One of the days I went through 3 “plans” to get dinner on the table. Plan A, no veggies except corn to do a turkey stir fry–boring. Plan B, so salad to do a turkey salad (happy that someone ate the salad but would have liked to be kept informed). Plan C ended up being turkey bacon wraps—no one complained. A couple days ago I had a bit of chicken cooked/chopped left over from my son’s chicken cordon blue soup. I made a Chicken Santa Fe Rice wraps after throwing rice, corn, & black beans in with the chicken with some seasonings. Next time I’ll use some salsa for better flavor and moistness. 🙂 That one now goes on the menu.

  13. Great recipe, thanks! I make a Tapas dinner on occasion, thanks for the recipe…

  14. Sunday:
    B – Hubs had his usual eggs & bacon. I had an apple. Ds#3 spent the night with a friend. We picked him (and his friend) up on the way to church.
    L – we went out for lunch.
    D – tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
    A simple and easy day.

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