5 not-so-basic ingredients to use in your cooking

By Kristen Shipley,
Central York High School

Do you ever have those foods in your pantry or refrigerator that you have no idea what to do with? If you have any of the following foods in your kitchen, there are some great new healthy ways you can use them.

1. Frozen Fruit

Frozen fruit is a great way to get all the same taste and nutrients as fresh fruit, especially when something is out of season. The mixed variety is perfect for whipping up smoothies, and when thawed, it makes a delicious topping for pancakes, waffles and cakes.

Quick Recipe: Mix one bag of frozen fruit, one cup vanilla yogurt (Light N Fit is best) and a half cup of your favorite juice in the blender for a healthy breakfast treat.

2. Pie Crust

These are not just for making dessert pies! Thawed pie crust makes a scrumptious dumpling coating and a frozen crust makes for a hearty breakfast pie, or quiche.

Quick Recipe: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl whisk 5 eggs, ½ cup milk, ½ cup cheese and your favorite spices and toppings (ex. cooked bacon, sausage, mushrooms, peppers or onions). Pour the mixture into the pie crust and bake for about 30 minutes or until firm in the middle. This makes a tasty breakfast to last you a few mornings.

3. Potatoes

This starchy food can be made into almost anything. From sweet to russet, any kind will do with the next recipe. It all depends on what you’re in the mood for.

Quick Recipe: Slice about 3 potatoes into ⅓ inch rounds and toss in a bowl of olive oil. Arrange on an aluminum-foil-covered cookie sheet and sprinkle with seasonings. For sweet potatoes, sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. For white potatoes, sprinkle with salt to keep it simple.

4. Spinach

Popeye knew what was good for him. Maybe we should follow suit. After all, he did have a lot of muscles. Not always the most flavorful vegetable by itself, spinach does wonders with other ingredients.

Quick Recipe(s): Mix some cooked spinach into rices, lasagna and the quiche (recipe as listed above) for some added texture to any one of these dishes.

5. Apples

This fall favorite remains a classic year-round. Who can pass on this All-American apple dish: the dumpling?

Quick Recipe: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll a package of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and press together 2 rolls at the seamed edges. Peel and core your favorite type of apple (Golden Delicious works better) and season with cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread ½ tablespoon. butter and a drop of vanilla on the crescent roll. Then wrap the crescent around the apple and place on a greased sheet, and bake for 30-plus minutes until the crust is browned and the apple is soft inside. Served with ice cream, this dish is heaven.

All of these ingredients create a blank canvas for you to work with. Cooking is all about personality so don’t be afraid to get creative. Be the Picasso of your own kitchen! Let me know how it goes by commenting here.

About Matt Eyer

Breaking News Editor at the York Daily Record/Sunday News. Follow me on Twitter @mjeyer.
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