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December 17, 2013

Recipe for baked samosa wontons with potato, pea and broccoli filling {vegetarian}

Baked samosa wontons filled with potatoes, peas and broccoli (The Perfect Pantry).

You've heard the saying, You never get a second chance to make a first impression. No wonder I'm always stressed when I have to prepare appetizers. Apps create excitement and anticipation, as they set the stage -- with or without drinks -- for the occasion to follow. When I serve the same old same old dips and chips, my guests are probably wondering if they're in for a ho-hum dinner. The solution to the pre-dinner blahs is a repertoire of easy, yet impressive, appetizers, like these samosa wontons. The dip is store-bought mango chutney, and the wontons are baked, not fried, so nobody starts the meal with a mouth full of grease. The traditional mashed potato and pea filling gets a kick from Madras (yellow) curry paste, which is easy to find in the Indian foods aisle of many supermarkets. You can make the filling ahead and refrigerate it. Or, make and bake the wontons ahead, and freeze them to reheat at party time. Either way, these apps, easy on the cook, will surely be a hit for your holiday entertaining.

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November 19, 2013

Recipe for lentil and goat cheese stuffed baby potato appetizers {vegetarian}

Lentil and goat cheese stuffed baby potato appetizer.

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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October 29, 2013

Recipe for spinach and feta phyllo cups {vegetarian}

Spinach and feta phyllo cups, a quick and easy appetizer.

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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October 15, 2013

Recipe for slow cooker white bean, garlic and olive dip or spread {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Slow cooker white bean and olive dip or spread.

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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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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