Blog Posts by In the Pantry

  • In the Pantry: Texas Caviar Recipe

    Looking to add sugar and spice to a basic party dish? This week on "In the Pantry," Aida Mollenkamp shows you how to make Texas Caviar, a versatile dip that tastes as glam as its name.

    "What's awesome about Texas Caviar is that this is a dish that can be used for so many different things," says Mollenkamp. "Serve it with chips and you have a dip.  Add it to your favorite grilled meat and you have a really easy sauce.  Or you can even take it to a picnic and use it as a side." 

    Mollenkamp says the dish can be made a few days ahead of time and refrigerated: "All the flavors will actually come together and taste even better."

    More on Shine: Slow-Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

    Texas Caviar


    3-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
    Sugar, to taste
    Salt, to taste
    4-5 pickled jalapeños
    1 Roma tomato, seeds removed and roughly chopped
    2 15-ounce cans of black-eyed peas
    1 finely chopped white or yellow onion
    2 15-ounce cans of corn kernels
    1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
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  • In the Pantry: Slow-Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

    Homemade macaroni and cheese is the ultimate fall comfort food. So what happens when you don't have time to whip up a batch? This week on "In the Pantry," Aida Mollenkamp shows you how a slow cooker and a few minutes of preparation can help you satisfy your mac-and-cheese craving.

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    Slow-Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
    Serves 4-8

    1 lb. elbow macaroni
    Vegetable oil, as needed
    2 cups half-and-half
    1 8-ounce pack cream cheese, at room temperature
    1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
    3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

    Cook the pasta for half the amount of time recommended on the package. Drain pasta, toss with a drizzle of vegetable oil, and place the pasta to the slow cooker. Stir in the half and half and cream cheese. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cover the slow cooker and cook the macaroni and cheese for 2 to 3 hours on low,

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  • In the Pantry: 3 Rice Krispies Dessert Recipes for Fall

    This week on In the Pantry, Aida Mollenkamp shares her favorite recipe for Rice Krispies Squares, including her secret for giving these easy, decadent treats an extra boost of marshmallow goodness. Mollenkamp recommends that you use the stovetop instead of the microwave for melting the butter and marshmallows. The stovetop allows for more control and an even melt. Use miniature marshmallows, as large marshmallows take longer to melt. When serving up these yummy treats, Mollenkamp likes to make them extra tall, so she prepares them in an 8-by-8-inch baking dish. But if you like thinner treats, prepare them in a traditional 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

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    Extra-Marshmallowy Rice Krispies Squares

    6 tablespoons butter, plus additional for coating the baking dish
    10 cups miniature marshmallows
    8 cups Rice Krispies cereal

    Line an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with parchment paper and lightly coat it with butter. Heat a large skillet over

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  • In the Pantry: 3 Easy Marinades to Dress Up Your Meal

    Marinades may seem like a mystery, but they're made with a basic formula. Once you learn the secret to creating an easy marinade, you'll never buy a bottle of it at the store again. On this week's episode of "In the Pantry," Aida Mollenkamp shares three basic marinades you can make in a pinch.

    "You need a tenderizer, which is an alcohol or an acid mixed together with an oil because that will carry the flavor throughout the marinade," explains Mollenkamp. "And then [add] any seasonings you want. At the very least you want something that has a little bit of salt, like salt or soy. You could even add in things all the way from chilies to herbs."

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    As a guideline, Mollenkamp recommends marinating seafood and fish for an hour. Red meat, poultry, and pork can marinate for four to eight hours.

    Balsamic Marinade

    If you want to take this marinade up a notch, Mollenkamp says you can add some sliced garlic or herbs.

    2 teaspoons brown

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  • In the Pantry: Cool Ice Cube Tray Tricks That Can Save You Time and Money

    A recent study said that globally, 1.3 billon tons of food is discarded annually. How much food do you waste because you're not sure how to save it for later use? This week on In the Pantry, Aida Mollenkamp shows off cool ice cube tray tricks that can help you save money and do your part to reduce unnecessary food waste.

    Red wine. "The first thing that you could be saving are liquids," says Mollenkamp. "For example, if you opened a good bottle of red wine and you don't want to throw it out, you could put it into the ice cube tray [and] freeze it up." Cold drinks like sangria could be chilled with cubes of wine instead of water. And if you have a recipe that requires braising or a sauce that calls for red wine, just add a few wine cubes.

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    Coffee. Instead of pouring an unused pot of coffee down the sink, pour it in ice cube trays and freeze it. The next time you want iced coffee, just add a few cubes to your hot coffee or espresso instead of water cubes.

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  • In the Pantry: 7 Secret-Weapon Ingredients That Add Flavor to a Dish

    Ever try a recipe that has a little extra flavor, but you can't figure out the ingredient? This week on "In The Pantry," the secret is out. Aida Mollenkamp has the scoop on seven secret-weapon ingredients that can boost the taste of any dish.

    Anchovies. Mollenkamp says anchovies seem "a little bit scary," but they are worth using because of the savory, salty flavor they add to a dish. When using anchovies for something classic like a caesar salad, she recommends sautéing garlic or onions, adding the anchovies and mashing them right in the pan. Anchovies are also delicious paired with chard and wilted kale.

    Capers. Mollenkamp says capers provide a great briny flavor to dishes. "You can even fry them up in the pan and then just use them instead of a crouton on a salad or something like a chicken piccata."

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    Sriracha. If want to add a spicy kick to a dish, try a bit of a chili-garlic paste called sriracha, . Mollenkamp suggests

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  • In the Pantry: Signature Party Dips You Should Add to Your Menu

    Want to impress your friends and have them pinning photos of your new signature dip? Expand your recipe repertoire and give salsa and guacamole a temporary break. This week on In the Pantry, Aida Mollenkamp shares two delicious party dips that you can make in minutes: Edamame Hummus and Roasted Red Pepper Dip.

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    Edamame Hummus
    Makes about 2 cups

    "What's great about hummus and all bean dips is you can make it up to four days ahead, leave it in the fridge, and then just pull it out when you're ready to serve it," said Mollenkamp.

    2 cups cooked edamame (shelled soybeans)
    2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
    3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1 tablespoon tahini or almond butter
    Pinch of salt
    4 to 5 tablespoons water 
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup snipped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)
    Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

    Place edamame, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse a few times.

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  • In the Pantry: Tomato Sauce 101

    If you love to cook, learning how to make a basic tomato sauce is a must. With just a few staple ingredients--olive oil, pureéd tomatoes, onion and garlic--you can make a delicious sauce that can serve as the base for fancier versions. This week on "In the Pantry," host Aida Mollenkamp shares her favorite recipe for a basic tomato sauce, and shows you how to transform it to make Vodka Cream Sauce and Meat Sauce.

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    Makes 24 cups, or three batches, of sauce

    You'll use this sauce as the base for the Vodka Sauce and Meat Sauce. Mollenkamp recommends using San Marzano or Pomi canned tomatoes because of their low acidity level. "You'll end up with a better-tasting sauce," she said. You can use another brand of crushed puréed tomatoes, but you might need to adjust the end flavors with a little salt or even sugar to balance out the tomato sauce flavor. Can't find crushed pureéd tomatoes? Buy canned whole tomatoes and use a blender to

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  • In the Pantry: Essential Cooking Gear for Your Kitchen

    If you're outfitting or updating your kitchen with new culinary gear, what are the essentials you can't cook without? This week on "In the Pantry," Aida Mollenkamp dishes up her tips on the pots, pans, utensils, and other indispensable kitchenware to make cooking and baking a breeze. "You're not going to be able to cook everything under the sun," said Mollenkamp, "but you will be able to cook probably 80 percent of your recipes with these things right here."

    A high-quality saucepan and frying pan. Mollenkamp recommends a seasoned cast-iron skillet because of its versatility in the kitchen. "You can do everything from sear to fry, to make sauces, to even baking in it," she said. And you'll want a good-sized saucepan, which you can use to make everything from a small amount of soup to a basic tomato sauce.

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    A sieve. Blanching vegetables, sifting flour, and draining pasta will be made easier if you use a sieve. Sieves come in a

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  • In the Pantry: 8 Common Cooking Mistakes (and How to Stop Making Them!)

    Tired of spending time in the kitchen working on a meal only to have it taste ho-hum? Maybe the problem isn't what you're cooking, but how you're cooking it. This week on In the Pantry, Aida Mollenkamp takes a look at eight of the most common cooking mistakes made in the kitchen and how they impact the food you're dishing up. Mollenkamp also offers easy solutions to these problems.

    Mistake: Under heating pans before cooking. "A pan is a metallic surface so you need the metal to expand in order for you to have even heat, and a good non-stick surface," Mollenkamp explained. "You really want to make sure that you're heating the pan adequately before you even begin cooking."

    Try this: Let the pan heat up for two to three minutes before you begin cooking.

    Mistake: Overcrowding food in pans. If you are cooking something where you're looking for a good brown--like sautéing mushrooms, or browning chicken before you braise it--then you're going to make sure you don't over crowd the pan.

    Try this:

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