Three years ago, I bought my first slow cooker: a red four-quart oval, no-frills model I found at a local discount store for less than $20. I tested a recipe for chicken stew, and I've been cooking chicken in the slow cooker ever since. I always have boneless, skinless chicken breasts in my freezer, and often have chicken thighs, too. Your well-stocked pantry provides all you need to take that slow cooker chicken on an around-the-world adventure.
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Every year should begin on a spicy note. To me, hot and spicy food in January portends a zesty, adventurous year ahead. In creating this Thai curry turkey with spinach, green pepper and cilantro, which I served over a bowl of steaming brown rice, I knew I wanted to keep everything green and herby by using the Thai green curry paste I always have in my refrigerator. When it comes to Asian condiments, I like what I like. I prefer the Maesri brand of Thai curry paste, which is all-natural and full of fresh cilantro and other herbs, and for fish sauce, it's always Three Crabs, in a bottle with, yes, three crabs on a pink label. Authentic condiments make all the difference, so why not start the year with an adventure: a trip to your local Asian grocery store. Fill your pantry with great condiments, and cook along with me all year!
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Did you grow up in a meatball house? In the house where I grew up, there were two kinds of meatballs: big red ones, cooked in sauce made with a packet of Spatini, and small sweet-and-sour ones, made by my dad in nothing smaller than five-pound batches. Never did we have anything approaching the sheer nirvana of these sweet Rhode Island coffee-dunked turkey appetizer meatballs. This recipe, from my e-book A Flock of Meatballs: Easy turkey recipes with around-the-world flavors, pretty much requires that you buy a bottle of real Rhode Island coffe syrup (my favorite local product, hands down, is Dave's All-Natural Decaf Coffee Syrup), used to make Rhode Island's official state drink, coffee milk. You can substitute strong brewed decaf coffee plus molasses, and it will be good, though not authentically Rhody. These meatballs freeze so well that you might want to double the quantity, and stash some for last-minute holiday appetizers.
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'Tis the season for leftovers, and there's no better way to bundle up your leftovers than in a batch of quick and easy enchiladas. I used leftover pumpkin puree and leftover brown rice to make these vegetarian enchiladas for lunch on the day after our Canadian Thanksgiving feast. If you have a few slices of turkey, shred them up a bit and tuck them inside. Stuffing and mashed potatoes instead of brown rice? Go for it. Corn tortillas instead of whole wheat? Yes, indeed. Top the whole pan with red or green enchilada sauce from the pantry, and plenty of cheese, and nobody will complain about having to eat leftovers.
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