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August 15, 2013

How to use vanilla extract (and five favorite cookie recipes)

Five favorite cookies!

When I first wrote about vanilla extract here on The Perfect Pantry, I called vanilla and chocolate the culinary Romeo and Juliet, because you almost never see a recipe for chocolate that doesn't also include a little bit of vanilla to enhance the flavor. In the past few years, I've learned to appreciate the flavor of vanilla on its own. Well, almost... I love vanilla ice cream, but I love it more when it's packed with chocolate chips, or Oreo cookies, or topped with hot fudge sauce.

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March 21, 2013

Sweet cream butter (Recipe: lemon currant jonnycake biscotti)

First published in September 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos and links, and tweaks to the recipe. There's just enough lemon in these biscotti to brighten the gloomiest of winter days and celebrate the arrival of Spring.

Lemon currant biscotti, crispy Italian cookies perfect for afternoon tea.

A dairy cow weighs more than 1,000 pounds.

A butter cow — specifically, the Iowa State Fair's famous Butter Cow — weighs 600 pounds, enough butter to coat 19,200 slices of toast.

I know what you're thinking.

Salted butter, or unsalted?

(Are you really thinking that, or are you wondering, like I am, what happens to all of that butter at the end of the fair? Does the cow melt in the heat? Do cow birds eat butter? Does the Butter Cow sleep in a barn at night? Does it moo?)

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February 28, 2013

Recipe for sugar-free applesauce muffins with raisins and pecans

Sugar-free applesauce muffins, great for breakfast or dessert.

Lucky for me, I like my sweets on the not-too-sweet side, and that's a perfect description of these sugar-free applesauce muffins made with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. The muffins had to have raisins, because I love raisins. And they had to be sugar-free. And they had to be sturdy enough to hold a birthday candle for my friend Charlotte, because I made these muffins for her. Considering all of those "had to" items, they tasted pretty terrific, especially just out of the oven slathered with unsalted butter. No-sugar-added applesauce makes a great substitute for sugar, and it helps keep baked goods moist, too. I used a muffin top pan, because I only like tops, but you can make regular muffins if you like the bottoms. Muffins usually don't keep very well, so make these for a party or a brunch, and eat them the day you make them.

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January 17, 2013

Recipe for brownie cupcakes

Rich and gooey brownie cupcakes, for children of all ages.

Three ways I know I am not a natural born baker: (1) I hate to measure; (2) It never occurs to me that my pantry always has all of the ingredients needed for basic cookies, cakes and muffins; and (3) If what I'm baking doesn't contain chocolate, I just don't see the point in making it. Over the holidays, while cleaning out my pantry, I discovered three (!) tins of Hershey's cocoa powder. It was a sign, and these brownie cupcakes, made from a recipe on the Hershey's web site -- with a bowl and spoon, and no mixer to clean -- were the result. The cupcakes are slightly gooey inside, as good brownies should be, and they were rich enough without frosting, though you certainly could frost them, and add sprinkles and nuts and M&Ms and anything else. I had a bit of royal icing on hand, and used that for a simple swirl. We stored leftovers in an air-tight container for two days, which was the limit of how long we could hold out before finishing every last bite.

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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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