Home cooks of the upper Texas coast share no-shop recipes and clever tips
What are home cooks to do when they’re faced with dwindling items on grocery store shelves? Parlay their pantries into wonderful home-cooked meals, Santa Fe resident Renee Sckittone said.
Grocery supplies have somewhat stabilized and panic buying has eased — at least at the time of this writing — but it never hurts to know how to use what you have, Sckittone said.
Sckittone is one of the administrators of the Galveston Cooking Group, a Facebook page with about 3,000 members who celebrate all things edible. When basic items no longer are available, or hard to find, take stock of your freezer and pantry and look for recipes that include the items you already have, she said.
“I think the current situation has really served as an impetus for people to go through their pantries and freezers, evaluate what they have and how to use it in the most frugal manner,” she said. “It’s also making us more resourceful.”
Sckittone’s favorite pantry recipe is Parmesan noodles, a quick, simple meal that can be tailored to your family’s likes and dislikes, she said. Sckittone likes to use add-ins such as canned or leftover chicken, frozen shrimp or vegetables like spinach.
“The noodle recipe is inexpensive and adaptable,” she said. “My kids loved it growing up. I made different versions of this for years during the kids’ soccer seasons.”
Galveston Island resident and business owner Cassie Brown is an active member of Galveston Cooking Group who frequently uses her pantry as a go-to for recipes to feed her husband and extended family.
“My favorite pantry recipe is for tuna cakes,” Brown said. “It’s a delicious and versatile recipe.”
Not fond of tuna? Brown suggests swapping it out for canned salmon or chicken or adding a dash of your favorite condiment, such as tangy Dijon, or spicy sriracha for the more adventurous palate. The cakes can be served for lunch with a salad or as a sandwich for a simple supper.
Both Sckittone and Brown enjoy the photos and camaraderie they find in Galveston Cooking Club, they said. It’s a fun way to stay connected with a community of home cooks, they said.
“I love to see what everyone is cooking,” Brown said. “People are kind to each other and it’s a safe, non-judgmental group that is genuinely rooting for you. Members are quick to answer a question or give helpful hints.”
It’s gratifying to see members be kind to each others, Sckittone said.
“Like sharing the produce they grew, or fish and game they caught, or even a spot at their table,” Sckittone said. “It’s kind of corny, but it makes me happy to see people connect, share and civilly discuss food and cooking — although the beans-or-no-beans-in-chili often gets heated. I think it provides a much-needed respite to know we can go there and share a photo, even less-than-perfect ones, and not be judged or criticized.”
Galveston Cooking Group is a safe and happy place and Brown appreciates the intergenerational sharing, she said.
“I love interacting with other local cooks and sharing tips,” she said. “Also, I enjoy seeing some heritage and generational recipes being passed down. I wish I would have watched my grandmother when I was younger.”
Renee’s Noodles Parmesan
3 ounces thin spaghetti or other pasta
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter
1⁄3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
½ teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of salt
Dash of pepper
Dried parsley to taste
Cook noodles according to package, reserving 1⁄3 cup boiling pasta water.
Combine 2 tablespoons of butter, cream cheese, parsley, basil, pinch of salt and dash of pepper.
Stir in 1⁄3 cup boiling pasta water.
Mix sauce well and keep warm.
Add half the Parmesan cheese to sauce.
Add the drained noodles to sauce and coat well.
Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top.
Notes: If cream cheese is too firm, soften in microwave about 30 seconds (cover it first).
For an extra bit of hearty, add leftover or canned chicken to pasta and pour sauce over, then top with Parmesan.
For a serving of vegetables, add fresh spinach to pasta at the last minute or so that it’s cooking.
This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.
Cassie’s Lemon Garlic Tuna Cakes
2 (5-ounce) cans of tuna, in water, well drained
3 cloves garlic, grated
¼ cup white onion, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 large egg
¼ cup, plus 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ cup, plus 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Drain tuna well.
Combine tuna, salt and pepper, garlic, onion, dried parsley, lemon juice and zest, egg, ¼ cup of breadcrumbs, ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese.
Mix ingredients well.
Combine remaining breadcrumbs and grated cheese in a shallow dish, such as a pie pan or bowl.
Scoop ¼ cup of tuna mixture, shape into a patty and coat with remaining bread/cheese mixture.
Fry cake in olive oil until browned on both sides.
Drain on paper towels.