For the past five-plus years, I've been preaching the gospel of a well-stocked pantry, so when a recent medical episode grounded me for a few weeks, I dove into my pantry enthusiastically, and cooked some great meals with what I had on hand. These pita pizzas topped with caramelized onions, slow-roasted or sun-dried tomatoes, olives and parmesan cheese, epitomize pantry cooking. The small size pita, a low carb oat-and-flax flatbread from Joseph's, has few calories and fewer carbs, and it's just the right size for an individual pizza topped with whatever treasures your pantry offers up. I love this combination of caramelized onions (made two weeks ago in the slow cooker), sun-dried or slow-roasted tomatoes, olives and cheese; if you're into broccoli, or roasted red peppers, or pepperoni, pile them on. Pita pizzas are great for a party, too. Set up an array of toppings, and let each person create his or her own masterpiece.
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Don't you love a recipe with a pedigree? I do. This Swedish soda bread recipe came to me from my friend Bev, who first tasted a version of it at an opening reception at the Providence Art Club. Bev asked Joan, the artist, for the recipe; Joan had made it as Irish soda bread, with caraway seeds instead of cardamom, and shortening instead of butter. When I sampled Bev's Swedish adaptation, it seemed more like cake, so I baked mine in one of the Bundt pans I collect but seldom use. (I can't explain my fascination with Bundt pans. I just love them.) Bev made hers in a round cake pan. Serve the soda bread warm, with a pat of sweet butter and a cup of tea, when friends stop by for a mid-afternoon visit.
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Our grandson loves chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, but I've never been one to go sweet early in the morning. I'd rather have these gingerbread waffles for dessert, but my husband Ted loved them as an afternoon snack, with butter and maple syrup. In other words, don't let me tell you when to eat waffles. Almost every ingredient in these waffles comes right from the pantry. I swapped white whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour in the original recipe, and upped the amount of powdered ginger because I love it. Though somewhat more dense thanks to the whole grain flour, these waffles still have the cake-like quality of gingerbread and, topped with ginger ice cream or vanilla frozen yogurt, would make a great dessert for kids or grown-ups. If you're having a party, cook a batch of waffles ahead, and refrigerate or freeze them; then, to serve, simply pop them in the toaster. One waffle per person will be perfect at the end of the meal. Our grandson might just manage two for breakfast.
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When you work at home alone, in a log cabin in the woods, you treasure the afternoon tea visits that mark the end of the business day and break the solitude. It's traditional, when someone stops in for tea, to offer a cookie or cheese and crackers, or some slices of fruit. Today I'm serving pumpkin-pecan mini muffins, easy to make without dirtying the mixer, and a perfect late afternoon pick-me-up. I swapped white whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour, to give the muffins a bit of whole grain goodness. These little two-bite muffins are sweet, but not too sweet, and if you don't like pecans, use walnuts or no nuts. Of course, if mini muffins aren't your thing, make full-figured muffins in a regular 12-muffin pan, and bake them for two or three minutes more.
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