Montclair has been our home for 6 years now. But all good things must come to an end… long Montclair!

It was a great run and I will always cherish all the wonderful memories we have made living in Montclair. I still remember us driving into Montclair’s little downtown several years ago while we were exploring towns closer to my new workplace. We were so taken up by the cozy clutter of eclectic restaurants and antique shops, the hilly, windy roads, pretty parks set against dueling Franco and Anglo architecture from when it was smaller villages called Cranetown, Speertown and Watchung.

I have seen Montclair grow in leaps and bounds during the real estate boom but thankfully it hasn’t crashed and burned like some other neighborhoods. Now, more than six years later, it is time for me to move on and away from Montclair! In the last few weeks, I’ve been busy packing up boxes, keeping the pantry lean and refrigerator clean as we prep for our big move. And today, I’m sharing a few recipes that were inspired by my pantry and refrigerator clean up. The strangest bedfellows can make for some signature concoctions!


Pasta Salad

So, what did I do with half a box of colorful spiral pasta in the pantry and all kinds of jars in the refrigerator filled with sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and marinated artichokes sitting for over a couple of months?! – a stunning pasta salad that was perfect for a quick meal in between my action packed schedule for the last couple of weeks! I also added some frozen peas and carrots (about half a cup) from the freezer while cooking the pasta  and then tossed everything with some olive oil, salt and pepper. And lastly for a delicious twist, I mixed in some left over marinated olives that I had got from the Wholefoods’ Antipasti bar a couple of weeks before.

All in all, this refreshing pasta salad tasted amazing on that hot summer afternoon, especially since it was inspired by my pantry and refrigerator clean up effort!

Lima Beans Pilaf

Going through my freezer, I found a box of baby lima beans staring at me. I couldn’t even remember how it got there in the first place! I’m sure it must’ve been a sudden urge at the grocery store to get “creative” and try something different….and then I forgot about it. But since it was well before its expiration date, I didn’t feel like tossing it into the trash can but I did in fact got creative and made a wonderful pilaf with it!

Serve it with a raita of your choice and you are good to go!

Baby Corn and Mushroom Masala

(Baby Corn and Mushroom in a Spicy Curried Sauce)

Here’s a delicious and easy dish to use up canned baby corns from your pantry and mushrooms from your refrigerator. Just sauté them with a little bit of garlic and onions along with some spices and you have a wonderful side dish to go along with roti or steamed basmati rice, ready in minutes. Back in India, I remember it being an everyday subzi since its easy to find fresh baby corn in the markets and grocery stores.

Parmesan Puff Pastry Pinwheels

I always keep store-bought frozen puff pastry sheets in the freezer. It takes the biggest step out of the process –  making the puff pastry dough! I use it as a shortcut to make veggie pattice i.e. veggie turnovers, a very popular breakfast item back home in India. However, this time I had got a couple of boxes to make Valentine’s day treats and one sheet was remaining in the freezer that I couldn’t just throw away. So what did I do…? Just sprinkled it with nutty Parmesan cheese, that also needed to be finished and a little bit of red pepper flakes for a spicy kick. Then rolled it and cut it into pinwheels and baked them till they were crispy golden brown.

Cream Cheese Chocolate Mousse

I used my pantry and refrigerator cleaning energy to create this rich creamy chocolate mousse! The secret is that there are no eggs in it but its made with cream cheese and ready-to-use whipped cream from the refrigerator…and of course, all that chocolate from the pantry! To jazz it up, I added a layer of lady finger cookies half way through the serving glass bowl and topped it with the last batch of the summer berries from my refrigerator that originally came from the Montclair Wholefoods 🙂

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