Blog Posts by In the Pantry

  • In the Pantry: 6 Ingredients Every Baker Should Own

    'Tis the season to be baking, but why waste your money on ingredients you'll use only once? This week on "In the Pantry," host Aida Mollenkamp tells you the six ingredients every baker should have in his or her kitchen.

    1. All-purpose flour . If you like to bake, a good all-purpose, unbleached flour is an essential. "An awesome alternative is white, whole wheat flour," says Mollenkamp.

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    2. Sugar. Mollenkamp recommends that you stock your pantry with several types of sugar: baker's sugar, confectioner sugar, brown sugar, and a liquid sweetener.

    Baker's sugar dissolves quickly and can be substituted for regular granulated sugar measure for measure. Baker's sugar can be used in meringues and simple syrups, or for sweetening cold drinks. You'll also want to keep on hand confectioner sugar, also known as powdered sugar, and brown sugar, especially if you're going to be making cookies. "I'd also recommend having one liquid sweetener on hand," Mollenkamp says, "and

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  • In the Pantry: Make This, Buy That

    Make it yourself or buy it off the shelf? This week on "In the Pantry," host Aida Mollenkamp helps you navigate the do-it-yourself revolution to make sure you're spending your time and money wisely.

    Make the bread, buy the jam. " The cost of buying a really great artisanal loaf of bread probably puts you out about $4 these days," says Mollenkamp. "Taking the time to make homemade bread, having the smell waft through the house, with a little bit of prep work, I say it's worth it." Jam, however, is a big project and requires ingredients, specialized equipment, and uses up too much counter space when you make it. So make the bread and buy the jam.

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    Make the granola, buy the yogurt. Mollenkamp says you'll spend about $4 for 32 ounces of yogurt. It will cost you about the same amount to make homemade yogurt, and it would taste the same as store-bought. But artisanal granola is costly, and you'll save money making it because you probably have all of the ingredients you

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  • In the Pantry: DIY Holiday Gifts Under $5

    Who says you have to spend a lot of money to give a thoughtful gift? This week on "In the Pantry," host Aida Mollenkamp shares three DIY gifts you can make with ingredients straight out of your pantry for less than five bucks!

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    Peppermint Hot Chocolate
    Mix In a Mason jar, place a layer of unsweetened cocoa powder, followed by a layer of granulated sugar, a pinch of salt, a layer of mini chocolate chips, and a layer of mint chips, which you can usually find at your grocery store during the holiday season. Mollenkamp recommends adding marshmallows or crushed candy canes if your grocery store doesn't sell mint chips. You can use a piece of parchment paper as a funnel to pour the ingredients into the jar. Cover the jar with its lid, and then dress it up with a tag and some instructions so that the recipient knows how to make Peppermint Hot Chocolate.

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  • In the Pantry: 5 Ways to Avoid Ruining Your Kitchen Knives

    Whether you're a cooking novice or a master chef, a good chef's knife is the most important tool in your kitchen arsenal. This week on "In the Pantry," host Aida Mollenkamp shares five simple tips to properly care for your kitchen knives.

    Store your knives properly . Shoving your knives into a drawer could damage them or, worse yet, cause you to get cut when you're trying to retrieve them. "Instead, you want to store them in a good knife block, under the countertop, or on one of those magnetic wall strips because then you have really easy access to your knife," advises Mollenkamp.

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    Wash and dry your knives by hand. Never put your knives in the dishwasher. Mollenkamp recommends washing knives in hot soapy water and then drying them thoroughly by hand to help avoid any rust or any spread of germs."

    Make sure you're using the correct cutting surface. "You always want to cut on an actual cutting board," says Mollenkamp. "Don't ever, ever, ever cut

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  • In the Pantry: How to Use Holiday Seasonings All Year Long

    Allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon are staple flavors of the holiday season. But "In the Pantry" host Aida Mollenkamp says these spices can go far beyond pies and cider. On this week's show, she shares her favorite ways to add dashes of holiday sweetness to savory meals throughout the year.

    "Give these spices more responsibility at the dinner table and keep them working for you all year long," says Mollenkamp. She also notes that spices can last up to six months if stored in a cool, dry place.

    VIDEO: DIY Showstopper Tabletop for $10

    Allspice. While the spice is traditionally used in gingerbread and pumpkin pie recipes, Mollenkamp suggests adding it to your favorite smoky-flavored barbecue sauce.

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    Nutmeg. "This year, don't put [nutmeg] in the back of your spice rack at the end of December," says Mollenkamp. "Try using it in savory dishes instead of just your drinks." She likes to use a sprinkle of nutmeg in potato gratin or

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  • In the Pantry: DIY Showstopper Tabletop for $10

    Entertaining doesn't have to be expensive. Today on "In the Pantry," Aida Mollenkamp will help you create a showstopping tabletop on a budget.

    Keep it simple. Don't stress out about throwing the perfect party, says Mollenkamp. "Instead, make things easy on yourself and decorate with items you already have on hand." Use flowers, leaves, or other fun materials picked from your backyard. A clear glass bowl filled with seasonal fruit can make a simple, sophisticated statement.

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    Choose a neutral palette. Start with a light beige, gray, or white to act as a canvas on which to build your unique tabletop setting.

    Remember the craft store is your friend for good, budget finds. "Everything from the kraft paper to the burlap, the raffia, and the nametags, I all got at the craft store for pennies on the dollar I would pay at a higher-end store," says Mollenkamp. Items on your table need not match perfectly. Mix and match textures and hues, and

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  • In the Pantry: DIY Seasoning Blends

    Did you know that you need only about 10 spices in your pantry to make almost any spice blend? This week on "In the Pantry," Aida Mollenkamp shows you how to make three spice blends that all start with the same base ingredients: onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.

    Each of these three recipes makes about half a cup's worth of seasoning blends, says Mollenkamp. Mix them, put them in jars with tight-fitting lids, and "store them in a cool, dark place, and they will last for months. You could even make them for an easy holiday gift."

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    Taco Seasoning Blend
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    1 tablespoon ground pepper
    1 tablespoon onion powder
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    2 teaspoons ground smoked paprika
    2 teaspoons dried oregano
    1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

    Add all of the spices to a small bowl and mix. Mollenkamp says she uses this blend not only for tacos but for

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  • In the Pantry: How to Make a Perfect Cup of Coffee

    Your morning cup of joe may be in jeopardy! This week on "In the Pantry" Aida Mollenkamp shares six tips that can help you make the perfect cup of coffee.

    1. Read the roast date on the coffee beans. "Coffee doesn't last forever, so you want to use your beans within two weeks of them being roasted," says Mollenkamp.

    2. Use the proper amount of coffee grounds. The recommended ratio is 1 tablespoon of ground beans per 1 cup of water.

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    3. Use whole beans. Mollenkamp says you'll lose coffee flavor by purchasing ground coffee or grinding your beans the night before you use them. Purchase whole coffee beans, get a really good coffee grinder, and grind right before you brew.

    4. Store your coffee beans properly.
    "Humidity [and] extreme temperatures are the absolute enemy of coffee," says Mollenkamp. Don't store your coffee in the freezer. Instead, place the coffee beans in a sealed, airtight container to

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  • In the Pantry: 3 Sweet Ideas for Leftover Halloween Candy

    If your kitchen is overflowing with Halloween candy, you'll need a few recipes to use up your leftover loot while satisfying your sweet tooth. This week on "In the Pantry," Aida Mollenkamp shares three of her favorite ways to use leftover candy. Just don't try them all at once!

    Halloween Bark
    Melt a bit of leftover chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. Mollenkamp recommends using dark chocolate to counteract the sweetness of whatever candy you decide to use. Spread the melted chocolate on a rimmed baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper for easy cleanup. While the chocolate is still warm, top it with your favorite Halloween candy. Set the baking sheet aside so the chocolate can cool and harden. Slice it into squares and serve — or save it all for yourself!

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    SweeTarts Milk Shake
    With a few simple ingredients, you can have a thick and creamy milk shake with a tangy bite. Mollenkamp recommends blending strawberry ice cream,

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  • In the Pantry: Classic Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork

    Get ready to cook a dish that will fill your home with the cozy, comforting smell of fall. This week on "In the Pantry," Aida Mollenkamp makes a classic, slow-cooked pulled pork. "It's so easy you can set it and forget it," says Mollenkamp.

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    Classic Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork

    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    1 tablespoon kosher salt
    3/4 teaspoon black pepper
    2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, minced
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    4- to 5-pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 4 pieces
    2 bottles of brown ale (or 1 cup of apple cider plus 2 cups of beef or chicken broth)
    2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
    2 bay leaves
    1 head of garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and crushed


    Simple Spice Rub

    Place dried oregano, kosher salt, black pepper, minced chipotle chilies in sauce, and chili powder in a bowl. Mix together.

    Some chili powders already include salt in their ingredients. Mollenkamp recommends using a chili powder without salt to better control how much

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