And when we say that all the ingredients are already in your pantry, we really mean it. 
Credit: Getty / Darya Arnautova

An inch of cereal in the bottom of the bag. A quarter cup of baking chips. A handful of nuts or dried fruit. The crushed bits of pretzels left in the bag. The broken cookies at the bottom of the box. The last quarter cup of rolled oats. These little bits and bobs from my pantry used to be either a quick snack or destined for the trashcan. There isn't a recipe that I know of that calls for 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips! But I hate to waste these delicious morsels, so a while back I started dumping this pantry detritus into a large canister. Give a good shake, and you have a Pantry Mix that is so much more than the sum of its parts. 

A few notes before you toss everything in: Avoid mint-flavored items, because the flavor tends to take over. Also, while potato sticks or chips are great to add to a Pantry Mix, be sure they are not flavored. No one wants a sour cream and onion bakes.

What to bake with your new Pantry Mix

I love baking with my Pantry Mix, from a fun addition to a homemade granola to a wacky version of a marshmallow treat. But the best thing I do with the blend is stir it into a chewy, toffee-intense blondie.

I first encountered this style of blondie when a neighbor pal dropped off some of her chocolate walnut blondies at my door. I loved them as is, but I especially loved the blondie base itself, which unlike many recipes, had a great flavor on its own instead of just being a vehicle for the mix-ins. She shared her secret with me, which involves cooking the butter and sugar and using them hot, instead of creaming them, and it is this caramel beginning that gives these blondies their signature flavor and wonderful texture.

How to make Pantry Mix Blondies

You can, of course, sub in any combo of mix-ins if you do not have a bunch of pantry scraps at your disposal, but the blondie batter takes especially well to these unique mixes, especially if some of your scraps are salty. 

Pantry Mix Blondies

3 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

3 sticks butter

3 cups packed light brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla paste

3 cups Pantry Mix

1. Heat your oven to 325°. Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray, line with parchment to create a sling, then spray the parchment.

2. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar together until bubbling. Remove from heat.

3. Whisk eggs and vanilla in bowl, then, while still whisking, very slowly mix in the hot sugar mixture, being sure to not stop whisking so that the eggs do not scramble. Once all the hot sugar butter mixture has been incorporated, fold in the dry ingredients. Let cool before adding mix-ins, or they will melt/soften. Once cooled to room temp, add in your mix-ins and transfer batter to the prepared pan.

4. Bake until just set, about 45 min. Cool 5 minutes, then use the parchment sling to remove from pan to a rack and let finish cooling completely before cutting.