Use What You Have Cooking

this is a picture of self made pesto in a mortar.

Image via Wikipedia

Inspired by this post from Carrot’s ‘N’ Cake’s helpful “Grocery 101” series, one of my goals is to get back into meal planning (more on why I stopped another time).  I want to focus more on using items that I already have on hand, rather than choosing recipes for which I have to purchase all-new ingredients (my usual modus operandi).  As I recently posted on Tumblr,  I started by going through my pantry and making a list of on hand items that might be used for recipes.  The items were:


Tomato Sauce

Chocolate Syrup

Sundried Tomatoes

Artichocke Hearts

Canned Pumpkin

Various Pastas


Mini-Cheese Tortellini





This afternoon I purchased some boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I was planning to bake them but wasn’t sure exactly how.  I think in the back of my mind I was thinking of using the artichoke hearts in a recipe that calls for baking chicken breasts & artichoke hearts in balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  However, I didn’t have, nor did I purchase, the dressing (go figure?!).

I visited my favorite online recipe source,  The site has a feature where you can type in (an) ingredient(s) and it will suggest recipes.  I wasn’t sure how many ingredients you could put in, so I figured I’d start with several and shorten if necessary.  First I typed: “chicken pesto sundried tomato artichoke” and it took me to a recipe for crab cakes (?).  Next I tried “chicken pesto sundried tomato” and it gave me the previous recipe plus two more, neither of which contained chicken.  “Chicken pesto” provided a better list of results (so, I’ll be sure to just input one or two ingredients in the future). 

One recipe that caught my eye was “Gordon and Gary’s Pesto Chicken Quesadillas.”  I remembered that I had a pack of whole-wheat tortillas in the fridge, and I also had finely shredded parmesan cheese.  Since it was getting late and it was eleventy-billion degrees outside, I didn’t want us to have to grill the chicken.  BUT, I had some leftover chicken that was already cooked, seasoned, and cut into bite-sized pieces. 

I thought the quesadillas turned out really nicely.  The pesto, chicken and cheese tasted good together and the quesadilla added some textural interest.  The children didn’t seem to care for the quesadillas/pesto but they ate the chicken.  Muggle Man LOVED them and even Tweeted “Awesome dinner tonight” to me.  WIN!