I'm grateful to slow cooker manufacturers everywhere for not actually building the airtight appliances they intended to build. Nothing makes me happier than the house filling with the aroma, escaping from under the lid, of whatever is gently cooking in the pot for many hours. A recipe like this Tex-Mex chicken and rice, with corn and black beans tucked here and there, can cook on the stovetop, but in the slow cooker, the flavors have a chance to intermingle on their own (without tending by you), and the musky scent of cumin warms up the kitchen as it cooks. You'll find jars of sofrito in the Spanish foods section of your supermarket. If you use converted rice, you can cook rice right in with the... Read more →


Instead of a huge dinner, with one large hunk of meat at the center, I prefer to set out a selection of small dishes so my holiday guests can pick and choose and nibble their way through an evening. For New Year's Eve, the "spread" can be extra-elaborate: cheese, bread, pickled things, some slices of smoked fish (and if you're a pork eating person, you'll want some prosciutto or other ham), fruit, roasted peppers, small bowls of pasta, spiced nuts. Any combination of dishes will work, but for me, regardless of whatever else is on the table, turkey meatballs are a must. These apple, Cheddar and cranberry turkey meatball appetizer bites bring together all of the traditional flavors of a New England apple pie, and... Read more →


On the days when I'm really in the mood to cook, I love to put some meals "in the bank" -- in other words, into the freezer, for the days when I'm really not in the mood to cook. These chicken enchilada roll-ups start with one of those "in the bank" dishes, quick and easy black beans and rice, and end as an all-in-one meal you can defrost, zap in the microwave, and serve any day of the week with just a few minutes of work. At this busy time of year, it's great to have a few easy meals on hand at the end of a long day of shopping, wrapping, cookie baking or tree trimming. If you've spent a lot of time sitting... Read more →


My five-year-old granddaughter, who doesn't like anything, polished off a plate of this slow cooker lasagna, and asked for seconds. Her older brothers, and, well... all of us, loved it, too. As the family meal organizer, I loved it more than anyone, because with the sauce made ahead, the assembly job took minutes, and the lasagna sat in the slow cooker for the afternoon while we went out and did other things. I love that there's no chance of it burning in the slow cooker, as there is in the oven. And when the voila moment comes, and you take the top off the cooker to reveal the lasagna, you'll love the ooohs and aaahs, all for the few minutes of actual work you put... Read more →


Along with new family memories, stories, and a few extra pounds, I always seem to pick up a holiday cold on Thanksgiving weekend. It's a good thing that I'm in the habit of making stock from the turkey carcass (or any rotisserie chicken carcasses I've stashed in the freezer, or all of those carcasses together). With a rich stock, some vegetables (fresh or leftover), and the noodles I always keep in the pantry, I can make a pot of this feed-a-cold turkey noodle soup and get myself on the road to recovery. Of course, the soup is pretty darned good even if you're healthy, so don't let that stop you from making it. And if you're lucky enough to have any leftover stuffing muffins, toss... Read more →


In a world gone ever so slightly mad recently, we wish you all the happys of the season: happy turkey, happy stuffing, happy over-the-top side dishes, happy leftovers, happy football watching, happy football playing, happy playing in fallen leaves, happy building new memories, happy quiet moments for reading, happy sharing with neighbors. Happy Thanksgiving, from our new home in the city to your home. Read more →


After ten years of soup recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, do you still need proof that combining any fresh ingredient -- fruit, vegetables, sausage or leftover turkey -- with a well-stocked pantry will produce a very fine soup? You can do it, and do it without a recipe; the secret is to be fearless and plunge right in. That's the way this sausage and black bean soup started out, but it ended up being so good that I'm glad I took notes as I was making it, so you can replicate it in your own kitchen. The soup began with the gift from my cousin of a couple of packages of Al Fresco Chipotle Chicken Chorizo Sausage with mango and adobo that were languishing... Read more →