Does this ever happen to you? You assemble all of the ingredients for a particular recipe on your countertop, but somehow, you end up cooking something completely different? I won't tell you what I was planning to do with this salmon and corn, except to say it was, well, the opposite of soup, but the day demanded a chowder, and it couldn't have turned out better. Spontaneous changes in the menu require creative use of whatever is in the pantry, or, as in this case, what's not in the pantry. I had no chicken or fish stock in the freezer or on the cupboard shelves, so I used the universal substitute -- water -- and added a bit of half-and-half. To keep the chowder gluten-free,... Read more →


For a few years, I shared lots of soup recipes on my second blog, called Soup Chick. (Although I stopped publishing recipes there in 2014, you can still access those recipes online.) Many of those soups never found their way here, to The Perfect Pantry, and I pretty much forgot about most of them. One day, Susan, a devoted reader of both blogs, reminded me of all the good slurpiness on the Soup Chick site, and she suggested I bring some of it here to share with you. This chowder, thick and oh-so-spicy, is one of my favorites. The smoky heat comes from chipotle peppers tempered a bit by the cream. If hot and spicy isn't the way you roll, you can cut the amount... Read more →


I know what you're thinking: how can this be barbecue chicken without the drippy brown barbecue sauce? Trust me. This chicken "drips" with all of the sweet, salty, smoky flavors of barbecue, without drowning in sauce, and that makes it perfect for tacos and burritos and quesadillas. Add your own favorite salsa on top, to make this spicy or not. Adapted from my slow cooker barbecue beef brisket recipe, this version, which my grandkids stuffed in burritos, passed the kid-friendly test with flying colors (i.e., they asked for seconds!). I cut down on both sugar and spice, but left all of the things nice: a little hint of adobo sauce from the chipotle, and some chili powder for rich flavor. If you're making this for... Read more →


Is your house Party Central for your family celebrations, or the place where your friends gather to watch football/basketball/hockey playoffs or cheer on your alma mater in a college bowl? If your house is the place to be, these Tex-Mex turkey meatball sliders should be there, too. They're tasty and easy, and can be made far ahead of when you need them. Everyone loves meatballs, and these sliders are no more than that -- giant meatballs packed with your favorite Tex-Mex seasonings (and with sour cream inside). Even with a little bit of cayenne pepper, these are not spicy. However, they are a little bit messy, as the mashed avocado tends to squirt out with the first bite, so be sure to have plenty of... Read more →


I hate going to the dentist, so while I'm there, I distract myself by dreaming up recipes. Is there really anything new under the sun when it comes to corned beef and cabbage, I mused, while Christa, my wonderful dental hygienist, cleaned my teeth a few weeks ago. I got the idea for this lighter, less salty corned beef recipe as we talked (well, she talked, and I made those noises you make when your mouth is full of dental stuff). My husband Ted and I both feel this is the most interesting, tender, seductive corned beef and cabbage we've ever eaten. Pickling spice -- not the little bag that comes in the corned beef package; use fresh, robust pickling spice mix -- gives the... Read more →


For an entire semester during college, my BFF Joyce and I subsisted on tuna salad sandwiches (canned tuna mashed with Miracle Whip), washed down with diet soda (Fresca for me, Tab for her). You would think after months of this, that I'd never want to see another tuna sandwich. You would be wrong. These days, I love to kick up my tuna in lots of ways. This variation calls for fresh, not canned, tuna; lemon zest and dill, for summery flavor; a few hot red pepper flakes, for zing; and celery for crunch. I don't love capers, but if you do, toss a few into the mix. You can broil a piece of tuna days ahead of time, and let it sit in the fridge... Read more →


What can I tell you? This Mexican-inspired green pozole beef stew zigged, and then it zagged, and in the end, it landed perfectly. In the first version I tried to incorporate a couple of cups of blue corn kernels, a gift from my friend Candy in Albuquerque. It turns out I should have pre-cooked the corn to soften it; the kernels remained hard and chewy long after the meat was tender. Hard, chewy, and a very odd blue-ish purple. In the second version, I used canned hominy, whole corn kernels that have been dried, then treated, so they look like little exploded puff balls of corn (you can buy canned hominy in the Spanish foods aisle of any supermarket). Just what this stew needed. And... Read more →