I've never been good at fancy appetizers. I try and try, and I get so excited when I find a recipe I can manage, like these lentil and goat cheese stuffed baby potatoes. The filling is a little like a souffle, which means that when you take the potatoes out of the oven, some of them will collapse. I thought I'd show you that, and tell you it's okay, and that the caved-in potatoes taste every bit as wonderful as the puffy ones. Red lentils (so good for you) add body, but not an obvious legume flavor. What melts in your mouth are the goat cheese, mashed potato and garlic in the filling. My friend Pat, who helped me test this recipe for Meatless Holidays, suggested we bump up the flavor with a bit of Sriracha; you can leave it out, but why would you? Cook the lentils ahead of time, according to the package directions; it will take just a few minutes. Serve these potatoes as soon as they come out of the oven.
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Mini phyllo cups just might be the best thing that ever happened to appetizers. To be honest, apps aren't really my thing; give me a bowl of hummus or salsa and something to dip, and I'm all set. However, every now and then, especially during the holiday season, I like to present my guests with something a bit more, well... polished, and that's when I turn to phyllo cups. I always have a few boxes stashed in the freezer; each box contains fifteen little cups, which means you don't need a lot of filling, and you can make multiple batches without much more effort. These spinach and feta phyllo cups are one-bite treats (or, for the very dainty, two bites), and offer a burst of flavor without a heavy filling. It takes less time to put them together than it takes to preheat the oven. How easy is that?
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To be honest, I had a hard time deciding what to call this slow cooker white bean, garlic and olive concoction. Dip? Sandwich spread? Pizza topping? Yes, yes, and yes. If you love assertive flavors, this dish will make you happy. The creamy white beans serve as a base for plenty of garlic, and just a few kalamata olives, and, of course, for lots of cheese. The slow cooker does most of the work, with a quick zap from an immersion blender at the end (a potato masher will get you to the same result, with a bit more elbow grease). I haven't tried it, but I'm thinking that some flatbread spread with this white bean mixture, topped with fresh arugula and maybe a sliced fig, would be divine. You can make this white bean dip a couple of days in advance, and reheat in the microwave before serving.
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I'm so excited to introduce my new e-cookbook, A Flock of Meatballs: Easy turkey recipes with around-the-world flavors, from The Perfect Pantry® kitchen, available today! You know how much I adore turkey meatballs -- really, who doesn't love meatballs? -- and I had so much fun creating new recipes (and a few short videos) for you.
Let's talk about e-books for a minute. I admit, I didn't jump on the electronic bandwagon right away. I treasure my stained and splattered cookbooks, especially the ones with pages that are stuck together with blobs of sauce. If the binding has come apart and the pages are crammed back in willy-nilly, I'm in heaven. I've even written a couple of cookbooks in print. So, you might be surprised that I've chosen to publish my new books only in e-book form.
Here are five things I really, really love about e-cookbooks:
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