Entertaining, Food, Protect The Pantry, Recipe

Protect the Pantry: Croutons

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Last week I posted an introduction to my “Protect the Pantry” series. If you didn’t have a chance to read it, please do so by CLICKING HERE!

The goal of this series is to create dialogue and conversation around food waste. There as so many ways we can grocery shop in our own kitchens and create food and meals with items we already have. I also want to encourage you to recycle or re purpose foods you might otherwise toss out.

Recently I purchased a loaf of Italian bread. I’m not sure why, but I did. By the end of the week i’d used only half the loaf, with no intention of using the rest. As I was sitting there meal planning for the week I wanted to find a way to re purpose this slightly stale bread.

Then I remembered, there’s almost no better way to re purpose bread than using it for croutons. Here are 4 simple steps:

Step 1: Tear or cut leftover bread to bite sized cubes.

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Step 2: Toss in olive oil, melted butter, or a combination of both — being sure not to saturate the bread.

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Step 3: Season — I typically use Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese but be sure to try your own flavor combination.

Step 4:Toast in a 400°F oven for 5-10 minutes until your desired crispiness! Enjoy on top your salad or as a snack! Store in an airtight container. 

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I decided to base my weekly meals around ingredients that I could use in multiple recipes and that used ingredients I already had in my pantry and fridge. I settled on a Black and Blue salad as a backdrop for my croutons.

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My salad was inspired by Creme de la Crumb. I used romaine lettuce, skirt steak, caramelized onions, tomatoes, avocado, and croutons. I topped with Honest Fare’s Guitless Blue Cheese Dressing

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Food, Lifestyle, Protect The Pantry

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

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Food, Lifestyle, travel

Winter Vacation Tips: Food Tour – Key West Food Tours

I can’t believe the holiday season is over. The crazy thing about the wonderful high of the holiday season, is the crash that comes just after the new year.

Many people, including myself, use this time of year to set goals, readjust priorities, and travel! I’m not a travel expert, but I do know that the U.S. winter season is a great time to travel near or south of the equator since it’s much warmer there.

We recently took a 4 day Royal Caribbean cruise that stopped in Key West and the Bahamas. We’d been to the Bahamas before but were excited to finally visit Key West. We’ve found that one of the best ways to learn about a new city and experience the best food is by taking a local food tour.

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We decided on KEY WEST FOOD TOURS and we were not disappointed! I wanted to give you a quick snapshot of our tour in hopes of encouraging you to try out a food tour on your next vacation. This might give you some ideas for the next time you’re in Key west or it might give you an idea for something new to try if you like traveling and if you like enjoying local food.

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The first place we visited was El Siboney a Cuban spot located at 900 Catherine St. This quaint restaurant was a great place to start our tour. We were served bread, beans, rice, and some of the best pork I’ve ever had. Our guide discussed the history of the restaurant and shared some of the stories behind this traditional cuisine.

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Our second stop was to Bad Boy Burrito located at 1128 Simonton St. Food Network celebrity chef Guy Fieri stopped here for an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and tried out their Cayo Hueso Fish Tacos. We had the opportunity to do the same and I’ll admit it was a very delicious taco! My only warning is that it’s very spicy, so be prepared with a tongue cooling beverage.

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Next, we walked over to the Speakeasy Inn Rum Bar and they served the tour participants a local rum runner cocktail. This was a tiny restaurant but if you’re into rum, this would be a good place to stop. There were some fun tidbits of history here and I was pleasantly surprised to learn how this stop shared so much Key West history!

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Our next stop was to Camille’s Restaurant. I loved this stop because it was my first time trying conch! We had Fried Conch fritters and I’m happy to say, I’m obsessed! I’ve heard horror stories about conch fritters but I think I can safely say this place does a great job making a fritter that’s not to doughy and that is bursting with flavor.

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Blue Heaven Restaurant and bar was such a neat stop. I felt like I was walking into a secret garden. The Key West island is a little bit of paradise, but this outdoor/backyard restaurant is its own piece of paradise. Here we were served Traditional Key lime pie and although I’m a huge fan of the Publix version, it’s got nothing on Blue Heaven’s version.

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Our last stop was to Key West Distilling. Here we were given a tour of the distillery and those who were interested, were allowed to taste their finished products!

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We truly enjoyed our Key West Food tour and recommend it to anyone who plans to travel to Key West soon. We opted for the Key West Food Tour over the one provided by our cruise line and it was definitely worth it! If you’re interested, visit www.keywestfoodtours.com for more information and to book!

 

 

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