Cooking in a Pandemic: How to Shop from Your Pantry

Food PantryRecipes Recipes WhiteBreadCinnamonRolls WhiteBreadRecipe

Can’t go to the grocery store? No problem. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina shares how shop your very own cupboards to create delicious, creative dishes at home
By Rosemarie Aquilina

Turn this pandemic into a bit of stay-at-home fun by shopping…in your own cupboards! These are all things I regularly do, but since we’re all housebound during this pandemic, I thought I’d share.

Ice cream sandwiches

Make ice cream sandwiches with leftover waffles from breakfast! Slice ice cream (1/2 inch to 1 inch) and place inside two waffles; wrap individually or place in freezer container in layers with wax paper between each layer and freeze. Consider dipping into melted chocolate or drizzling chocolate over the top, or add a layer of fudge or caramel inside. Or leave it as is — either way, it’s delicious.

DIY breadcrumbs

Pull out your favorite spices and those open bags and boxes of your favorite snacks (think anything from potato chips and crackers from half-eaten bags of cereal like Cornflakes and Cheerios. Place your chosen snack in a food processor or blender and pulse until it’s in fine crumbs. Pour out. Add a your favorite seasonings —  consider adding salt, pepper, and garlic powder, too — and blend together. Store in airtight container and use instead of breadcrumbs to coat chicken breasts, pork chops, eggplant, etc.


Need something to do with that box of cake mix sitting on the shelf? Use it to make a quick batch of cookies. The best part: They’re simple enough that your kids can make them! They are quick, easy, taste good and you can make all flavors.

Freeze vegetables for soups

When you have leftover tomatoes, onions or peppers that you think might go bad, dice them and place them in freezer bags. When you make the next stew, soup, or casserole, they’ll be ready to go!

Make your own bread

I have a few go-to, easy recipes that my family devours. You can use the same dough to make cinnamon rolls, pizza dough, and loaves. (If you don’t have all the ingredients at home, some bread recipes don’t need yeast and can be made with cake flour.)

Rosemarie’s Versatile White Bread

Makes two bread loaves

4 ½ teaspoons yeast (2 packages) ¾ cup lukewarm water (if desired for rolls use 2% milk) 1 T sugar 2 2/3 Cup lukewarm water ¼ cup sugar, I round it; for a bit of a sweeter bread, use 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar 1 T salt or salt substitute 3 T unsalted butter at room temperature 9 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour (I prefer bread flour but both work equally well).  NOTE: Add the last few cups as you go; you may need a bit more, you may need less 1 T vanilla, optional (depends what I do with the dough) Egg wash to brush on top 3T unsalted butter for melting on top
In small bowl dissolve 4 ½ teaspoons yeast in ¾ cup water with 1 Tablespoon sugar. The water must truly be lukewarm (110°) not hot, or it will kill the yeast. The sugar helps activate the yeast. Let this sit about 5 minutes or until it grows and is foamy. Into a large electric mixing bowl (use dough hook attachment) add five cups of flour, 2 2/3 cup lukewarm water, sugar, salt and butter. Add the proofed yeast. Combine on low. Continue mixing and slowly add the remaining flour until dough cleans sides of bowl and is soft and well mixed but is not sticky. This takes about 7 to 10 minutes. (Be careful to rest your mixer if you need to so that you do not burn out the engine.) The bowl will be clean and the dough will feel like soft like Play Dough. Form into large ball and spread butter over dough then place in a large buttered bowl. I place a large clean cotton towel that I have rinsed in hot water and wringed dry so it is just damp, over the top of the bowl. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour. If you have a proofing setting on your oven use it; if not, place in non-drafty corner of kitchen or in your oven. Let rise until doubled in size. Divide in half and turn out on a lightly floured board or counter. Knead into bread shape and place in 9-inch bread pans greased with butter, tucking ends under. Let rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Before baking, brush top with egg wash if desired. (Egg wash: whisk one egg with about 1 Tablespoon of water.) Brush onto egg top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35  minutes; rotate midway through. If you’re not sure the bread is done, stick a skewer in the middle. If it pulls out without sticking, it’s ready. Once the crust has begun to harden and form, you can brush butter over top or wait until you pull the bread from the oven or both. Cool for about five minutes and release from pan. Enjoy warm, or once cooled, freeze. Store in airtight container or Ziploc bag.
NOTE: I prefer bread flour, which has more protein and makes more gluten so that you can achieve an amazing bread rise. It also yields a more elastic, dense, chewier bread. All-purpose flour has a lot of protein and can create an airy chewy bread.

Cinnamon Rolls

This bread makes outstanding cinnamon rolls!

After first rising, I make one loaf bread then with other half knead bread and roll into rectangle. Brush inside with ¼ cup melted butter. Sprinkle mixture of: 2/3 cup light brown or dark brown sugar (white works if you don’t have brown sugar), 2 Teaspoons cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon apple pie spice, evenly over butter. Tightly roll up and place on cutting board seam side down. Cut into 1-inch slices. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper a few inches apart. Let rise until double. Bake in until slightly golden brown. I stick a toothpick in outer edges and if it comes out smoothly it’s done — inside can be a bit gooey. Remove to serving plate. Let cool about ten minutes and then frost.

With electric mixer combine 4 ounces cream cheese, 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, ¾ cup powdered sugar and ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract. If you want it thicker add a bit more powdered sugar; for thinner, add a splash of milk or cream. The heat of the cinnamon roll will thin and spread the frosting. Serve. Store in airtight container when cool — reheat in microwave for about 20 seconds.
Pizza Crust

I also use this bread as my go-to pizza crust! My family enjoys making personal pizzas, which is always a fun adventure and a perfect distraction when we are stuck at home! So when I make loaves of bread, you can be assured they are also designing pizzas.

Wishing you health, safety, love, and happiness. Stay creative and you’ll forget we are locked in!
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WhiteBreadRecipe Food PantryRecipes WhiteBreadCinnamonRolls Recipes

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