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March 18, 2014

Recipe for chicken and spaghetti squash casserole with bell peppers, olives and cheese {gluten-free}

Chicken and spaghetti squash casserole with bell peppers, olives and cheese #glutenfree.

When spaghetti squash made its first appearance on the home cooking scene, I tried hard to believe it could, would and should replace pasta in my favorite dishes. Yes, it looks all stringy and strandy, but no, it is not spaghetti, no matter how many meatballs you pile on top. Because it fell short of my expectations, I cast it aside, and for years did not serve spaghetti squash at all. Now, two things have made me take a fresh look: the slow cooker, and the pressure cooker. Both of these machines make cooking spaghetti squash so easy that I simply had to give it another chance. I'll just say this: I made this chicken and spaghetti squash casserole twice in one week, in order to get any photos at all, because my husband Ted and I practically inhaled the first one. The squash cooked perfectly in both the slow cooker and the "fast" (pressure) cooker, and the combination of chicken, vegetables and two cheeses put an Italian spin on the dish that made it every bit as good as spaghetti. I've included instructions for cooking the squash in the oven, as well, because no matter what's in your kitchen, I want you to make this dish.

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March 4, 2014

Marmalade (Recipe: roasted or grilled shrimp in beer marinade)

Originally published in December 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos and links. When I was making the marinade, my husband Ted cast a skeptical eye my way, but it only took one shrimp to make a believer out of him.

Shrimp in beer marinade (The Perfect Pantry).

I didn't grow up in a marmalade house.

In fact, apart from the grape jelly we ate only with peanut butter, I don't remember seeing any jams, jellies, preserves or marmalades in my mother's kitchen. Oh, I know that she had the occasional souvenir jar stashed in the back of the cupboard — a homemade treasure brought by a houseguest or friend who'd returned from a road trip to a part of the country where every family "puts things up", and recipes are prized. But I don't think we ever opened them.

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February 27, 2014

Recipe for Mediterranean beef brisket (pressure cooker, slow cooker or stovetop)

Mediterranean beef brisket, made fast (in the pressure cooker) or slow.

When I was a little girl, I witnessed a pressure cooker explosion in my grandmother's kitchen. I can't remember exactly what it was that ended up on her ceiling, but the impression that experience left on me remains, to this day, one of my kitchen nightmares. In a million years, I never expected to be in close promixity to a pressure cooker again, yet thanks to my friend Kalyn, I not only own an electric pressure cooker, but I'm kind of falling in love with it. The first time I pulled the machine out of the box, I made a batch of black beans, without presoaking, in less than an hour. They were perfect, and my kitchen did not blow up. As I learn more about this machine and how to make it work for me, I'm trying a few more recipes. Some have worked, and some have not, but one I really love (and made several times to get the timing right) is this beef brisket with Provencal-style seasoning. Cook it fast, in the pressure cooker, or cook it slow. Like all brisket, it's better on the second day. Now, tell me: do you use a pressure cooker?

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February 9, 2014

Cayenne pepper (Recipe: doro wot, Ethiopian chicken in red pepper sauce) {gluten-free}

Originally published in November 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. In the way that pad Thai is often the first dish people try at a Thai restaurant, doro wot might be the most popular dish at Ethiopian restaurants in America. It's great for parties.

Doro wot (Ethiopian chicken in red pepper sauce), from The Perfect Pantry.

Twenty or so years ago, the City of Boston, in a brief spate of urban beautification that would have made Lady Bird Johnson proud, bestowed upon us a Norway maple sapling to fill the empty tree hole in the brick sidewalk in front of our house.

We loved that little tree. So did every dog in the neighborhood.

To discourage the small gifts those dogs left us (in the days before pooper-scoopering was mandatory), we sprinkled cayenne pepper around the tree hole. It worked. Every so often we'd hear a little sneeze... and we'd watch a very surprised puppy move along, perhaps to find a kinder and gentler tree hole.

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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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