Using Pantry Staples in New Ways: Desserts and Treats

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Over the past couple of weeks we have shared several recipes for using foods that you likely already have on hand to create yummy main dishes and appetizers. This week, the recipes focus on using pantry staples for sweet treats and desserts. They are adaptable to personal preference and offer a variety of possibilities. The recipes can be used for anything from everyday dessert at home to entertaining company or even serving up delightful treats for kids and adults alike at gatherings.

Some of the recipes that I’ve included are perfect for helping with portion control or just creating a fun spin on traditional desserts that affords the opportunity to try multiple varieties without too much guilt! Hopefully the recipes will satisfy your sweet tooth and add creativity to your dessert repertoire!


Quick Fruit Crisp

Pantry Staples Needed- Granola Cereal

Ingredients (to make 1 fruit crisp serving- repeat same ingredients for each additional serving desired).

¾ cup fresh or frozen fruit such as blackberries or peaches (sliced or prepared as needed)

½ cup of your favorite granola cereal variety 1-2 scoops of vanilla ice cream


Place the desired fruit in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30-45 seconds if frozen or 15-20 seconds if fresh. Add granola and microwave an additional 15-20 seconds. Add ice cream and serve. Repeat all steps if making multiple servings. This is a very flexible recipe so feel free to experiment based on your fruit and food temperature preferences.



Rainbow Jello Cups

Pantry Staples Needed- Fruit Gelatin in a Variety of Flavors


Several packages of Jell-o in a variety of flavors/colors


1. Choose the number of layers/colors you would like, and remember that more layers require more time.

2. Pour half of the powder package of Jell-o of the first color you want into one bowl and the other half of the powder into another. Prepare the first bowl of Jell-o as directed for the speed set method (halving the amount of water and ice required since the bowl only contains half of the package). Pour a small layer of this mixture into the bottom of each 2 oz. plastic shot glass (available at many party stores) until you have the number of cups you desire or the Jell-o is used up. Refrigerate to set.

3. Prepare the second half of the Jell-o powder using the speed set method, but this time substitute the cold water called for with vanilla ice cream instead to make a pastel version of the color. Remember that the amount of each ingredient needed will be half of what is called for on the box since it is only half of the package. Pour a small layer of this mixture into each shot glass on top of the last set layer of Jell-o. Refrigerate to set.

4. Repeat steps one and two to alternate the bold color and then the creamy pastel color for the rest of the layers desired. Refrigerate the filled cups until they are served.


Mini Pie Desserts

Pantry Staples Needed- Pudding cups, Graham Crackers


1 ½ cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup white sugar

6 tablespoons butter

Pudding cups in a variety of flavors (esp. pie flavored varieties)

1 can spray whipped cream

Toppings, if desired, to match the pudding flavor (such as Oreo crumbles for chocolate, banana slices for banana cream, etc.)


1. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter together until well mixed. Press a spoonful of the mixture into the bottom of each 2 oz. plastic shot glass (available at many party stores) until you have the number of cups you desire to make (freeze any extra mixture for later use).

2. Add a few spoonfuls of pudding to each cup. Use a variety of puddings to provide a variety of “pie” options.

3. Store cups in the refrigerator. Top with whipped cream and any toppings just before serving.

Note: You can vary this recipe by preparing No Bake Dessert kits (made by Jell-o) instead of pudding cups to offer other varieties of dessert beyond pie (such as cheesecake). Just place a small amount of the prepared mixture into each cup!

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