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Hey, it’s Allie!  Special day here on LRW.  Today marks our first official guest post!  We love food here on little red’s well, and we couldn’t imagine talking about cooking without the expertise of my good friend Cara.  With her very own food blog, Cooking with Cara, Cara is my culinary dictionary.  Just the other day I texted her ‘Can I use canola oil instead of vegetable oil?’ Yeah…I need help over here. So without further ado…

Hi there! Cara here, from Cooking with Cara. I’ve been a voracious eater for as long as I can remember (I credit my Italian genes and my mom’s never-ending sweet tooth), but my passion for cooking really took hold when I moved to New York City my freshman year at NYU. Coming from small-town suburbia where a big night out consisted of binging on Bertucci’s free rolls, me and my forever-hungry stomach were in paradise upon discovering the countless number of quality restaurants in New York. Cut to 7 years later (yikes!), I’ve barely made a dent in my list of NYC restaurants to visit, and yet my wallet continues to take a serious dent crater-sized hit.

Keeping up with New York’s restaurant scene is fun, but also really, really expensive! Enter the “cooking” part of Cooking with Cara. Unfortunately cooking at home in NYC isn’t always easy. Busy schedules, small kitchens, long lines at the store, not to mention groceries are expensive here too. However, if you keep just a handful of staple ingredients in your kitchen, you can pull together a whole list of healthy, easy and simple meals in no time. So today I’m sharing my 5 pantry staples (below in red) and 5 quick meals anyone can throw together, regardless of skill level or time. 

5 staples

Meal: Fried Rice – Prepare rice as instructed. If you have any extra veggies on hand (onions, frozen peas, chopped carrots work well), sauté them in some oil until tender, then add the cooked rice so it toasts a little in the pan. Break the egg into the pan, stir until cooked, and you’ve got fried rice without having to open your Seamless app!

Spaghetti Carbonara – Typically a more luxurious Italian dish, this comes together with very few ingredients. Prepare spaghetti as instructed. If you have some bacon or pancetta, chop that up and fry until crispy. Meanwhile poach (see here) or fry an egg over easy (see here). Toss the cooked pasta with the cooked bacon, a glug of olive oil, lots of salt & pepper, parmesan cheese (if you have it) and top with the egg. The yolk well help create a velvety sauce!

Baked Stuffed Sweet Potatoes – Not just for football games! Pierce sweet potato with a fork and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, until tender. Let cool a few minutes, then cut a slit lengthwise down the middle. Stuff with leftover cooked rice, black beans, and any other fixings you may have (cheese, bacon, scallions, etc.).

Egg + Potato Salad – Egg salad gets a bad rap, but (when not loaded with mayo) can be a healthy and protein-packed lunch! Hard boil eggs (see here), then peel and roughly chop. Meanwhile, peel, dice, and roast a sweet potato. Mix together the chopped egg and cooked sweet potato with some mayo or greek yogurt, salt, and pepper. Serve over lettuce, in a wrap, or on toast!

Mexican Scramble – Can’t go wrong here. Beat the eggs, add to the pan, then once they start to scramble, add in black beans and canned tomatoes (try to drain out some of the extra liquid before if you can). Top with cheese and avocado!

Thanks Cara! So, Raven…fried rice for dinner?

What are the pantry staples that you swear by? What are your favorite quick and easy recipes for busy weeknights? 

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7 years ago

Love this! I gotta get to the grocery store now….