Must-have pantry and refrigerator items

A sweet treat for weekend breakfast mornings, mini cinnamon bites can be prepared in a matter of minutes. 

What are the staple foods in your home? The weekly grocery cart items? Everyone has a list of essential food items or “go-to” products or ingredients. Your children will only eat a particular Pop-Tart flavor, or you prefer 1% over 2% milk for your cereal bowl. Brand name items that you splurge on occasionally might take center stage on the pantry shelf, but it’s the day in and day out necessities that will keep life running smoothly. What do you usually have on hand? In my home, salsa, lettuce, yogurt, bananas, cheddar cheese, provolone cheese, string cheeses for snacks, black beans, green beans, pasta, and all kinds of nuts. The freezer will hold frozen chicken, shrimp, corn, and spinach. And, recipes that require pantry and refrigerator staples will make getting a meal to the table easier and faster.

Honey Buttered Corn

• 2 TBSP. butter

• 2 TBSP. honey

• 1 (16 oz.) bag frozen whole kernel corn

• 2 oz. whipped cream cheese spread

• ¼ tsp. ground black pepper

• ¼ tsp. salt

• Pinch of sweet paprika

Melt the butter and honey in a skillet. Add the corn and cook for 6-8 minutes; stir frequently. When the corn is cooked, stir in the cream cheese, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with sweet paprika before serving.

Easy Mashed Potato Bake

• 1 (32 oz.) refrigerated package plain mashed potatoes

• 4 oz. chive and onion cream cheese spread

• 1/8 cup half & half or milk

• ¼ tsp. dried minced garlic

• ¼ tsp. black pepper

• 3 TBSP. butter, softened

• 1 tsp. chives

• 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

• 1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded

Microwave the mashed potatoes for 4 minutes. Remove from the microwave and add to a large bowl. Stir in the cream cheese, milk, garlic, black pepper, and butter until smooth. Stir in ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese. Pour mashed potatoes into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the chives, bacon, and remaining ½ cup cheese to the top. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted. Note: If you have leftover mashed potatoes (4 cups) in your refrigerator or freezer, warm them up and use instead of the prepackaged mashed potatoes.

Broccoli Salad

• 5 cups fresh broccoli, cut into very small pieces

• 8-10 strips bacon, cooked and chopped

• ¼ cup onion, chopped into very small pieces

• ½ cup less sugar dried cranberries

• 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

• ½ TBSP. Everything Bagel Seasoning

• 1 ¼ cups mayonnaise

• 1 TBSP. lemon juice

• 2 TBSP. white vinegar

• ¼ cup sugar

• 1 tsp. kosher salt

• ¼ tsp. black pepper

Add the broccoli, bacon, onion, dried cranberries, cheese, and Everything Bagel Seasoning to a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the broccoli salad and stir well; refrigerate until ready to serve. Note: Everything Bagel Seasoning is one of the main spice blends I keep on hand, and it is great on so many dishes! If you don’t have the Everything Bagel Seasoning on hand, you can substitute with some roasted and salted sunflower seeds.

Cinnamon Roll Bites

• 1 (16.3 oz.) can Grands Homestyle Biscuits, 8-count

• 5 TBSP. salted butter, softened

• ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed

• 1 tsp. sugar

• 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 1 cup powdered sugar

• 4-5 TBSP. heavy cream

Unroll each biscuit and press out to a 3 or 4-inch wide circle. In a small bowl, stir together the light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon; reserve one tablespoon and set aside. Spread the butter evenly over each of the biscuits. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Roll up each biscuit lengthwise and cut into 1-inch slices. Place rolls onto a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Whisk together the powdered sugar and heavy cream; drizzle over the warm rolls. Makes about 32 mini rolls.

— Amy Fischer lives in Fort Payne, Alabama, and is a Southern food enthusiast who loves to spend time in the kitchen creating tasty recipes. You can contact her at

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