Foodbuzz 24×24: A Frugal Feast

I have memories as a child of all us kids being hungry and whining about there being “nothing to eat” in the house.  In this memory, (I have a point I promise,) my Dad would come downstairs, grab a few random ingredients from the pantry, and whip up something amazing. Every time! (Of course many years later it makes sense that he owns 2 successful restaurants and a catering company.)
Anyway, this is not a skill that I have inherited. I like recipes. I like things that go together and make sense to me. So when Foodbuzz challenged us to create a meal using mostly ingredients we already had in our pantry, I was up for the challenge. I knew that my Father’s impulsive, creative-cooking daughter was in here somewhere. And this challenge was just the thing to get the wheels turning.

There are a few items that are always in my pantry/fridge/freezer.
Olive Oil
Frozen Chicken Breast
Cream/Half and Half
Baking Supplies (Butter, Eggs, Flour, Sugar, Milk etc.)

When I made a list of these items I had a vision of two Italian-inspired dishes I’d just seen the recipes for.  Spaghetti with Lemon on Smitten Kitchen and Chicken Picatta from Giata on the Food Network site.  When I looked up these recipes, they both used many similar ingredients and all of them were on this list! I also figured I’d whip up a Green Salad and it would be a complete meal! Both of these dishes are pretty simple and easy and I am actually still in awe of how few ingredients were needed!


In terms of dessert, I actually changed my plan last minute. Originally I was going to make a Coffee Cream Pie I saw on Martha Stewart the same day I made my proposal for the meal. At that time I had almost every ingredient so it seemed perfect. But of course in the last couple weeks I’ve been baking more than ever (more on why later,) and I used up many of the things I needed. So- rather than defeat the purpose of the challenge and go out and buy the stuff, I changed my plan to make Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and caramel sauce. Not only did I have pretty much exactly what was needed, but it seemed like it would go with the meal better. Even when I’m stuffed with lemony-buttery-pasta-y goodness, I always can go for a scoop of ice cream at the end!

Everything I made was simple, easy and delicious. It was so satisfying to cook a meal using so few things and I felt good about using what was sitting in my fridge. This felt especially good because the meal fell on my last night in NYC before heading to Maine (today) for a month. I had a chance to use up a few perishable ingredients as well as cook a meal for my family when they came over to say goodbye.

I had a great time whipping this easy meal up, and maybe just maybe I’ll give this whole “spontaneous cooking” thing a try. :)

Recipes: I will give the links for the Pasta and Chicken dishes below. Later this week I will do a separate post for the dessert :)

Pasta: Smitten Kitchen

Chicken Picatta: Giata via The Food Network


  1. Nice post, Audra – I totally whined about the same things growing up. The pasta looks so quick, easy and yummy! My man makes something similar on really busy nights, sometimes tossing frozen prawns and fresh herbs in the mix.

    We stock our pantries with similar ingredients, too :)

  2. Ohh yummy yum! Everything looks and sounds perfect..and photos are truly mouthwatering Audra! Nicely done and congrats on one more amazing 24×24!

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