January 21, 2015

Slow cooker shredded beef chili with beans

Slow cooker shredded beef chili, topped with guacamole and lime. Sublime!

On a cold day a few weeks ago, my husband Ted and I had pre-theater dinner with our friends Mary and Mike at our favorite across-the-street-from-the-house restaurant. We shared an appetizer-sized portion of short rib chili, just a few heavenly rich and sweet bites for each of us. When I decided to make my own version, I knew I wanted something a bit leaner; after all, some of the amazingness of the chili came from the fatty short ribs. So, instead, I used my stand-by, brisket. Coffee and cocoa give this chili a deep Mexican mole undertone. A hit of fresh lime juice at the very end is an absolute must, and a blob of guacamole on top makes the dish just about perfect. The chili freezes well, so make the full recipe and you'll be all set for weeknight dinners or that upcoming big football game.

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January 11, 2015

Slow cooker chicken stew with onions, mushrooms, and at least 40 cloves of garlic

The more garlic, the merrier in this crockpot chicken stew.

Cross a traditional French coq au vin, chicken with forty cloves of garlic, and old-fashioned chicken stew, and only good things can happen. And then, add more garlic! This recipe sprung from my husband Ted's craving for chicken stew, a half bottle of unspectacular red wine that needed to be used, and my own wish to toss something into the slow cooker that would make the house smell wonderful all day. Please don't be afraid of the amount of garlic in this recipe; it mellows and sweetens with the long cooking, and is essential to the success of the dish. Serve the stew on its own, or over rice or egg noodles, with a bowl of sliced crusty bread for mopping up every last bit of the sauce. Like all stews, it's wonderful on the day you make it, and even more wonderful the following day.

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January 7, 2015

Confetti spaghetti squash with peppers, zucchini, lemon and capers {vegan, gluten-free}

Scrape out strands of spaghetti squash topped with colorful vegetables. Fun for kids and adults! #vegan #glutenfree

When I first shared this recipe in a post about capers, in January 2008, I thought that, because I found it in a kids' cookbook, it would be typical kid food. Au contraire. Capers give the vegetable sauce a sophisticated profile, but honestly, I imagine my grandkids would take great pains to pick out each and every caper berry. Two changes I've made in the way I prepare this recipe now: I use smaller amounts of both capers and lemon juice, which tend to overwhelm the delicate vegetables, and I add a teaspoon of garlic. I like to serve the vegetable topping right in the spaghetti squash, so each person can scrape out his or her own squash as they go along. Sometimes, I grate some parmesan or asiago cheese on top. Not vegan, but delicious.

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November 30, 2014

Risotto alla Milanese, stovetop or pressure cooker method {gluten-free}

Risotto alla Milanese, the ultimate classic risotto rich with saffron and cheese.

My love affair with risotto began with this saffron-tinged risotto alla Milanese, and now that I'm learning to make risotto in the pressure cooker, I'm more in love than ever before. There are only a handful of ingredients in this dish, so each one needs to be the very best you can find. Real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, good Italian arborio rice, pure saffron threads (expensive, but you only need a pinch), creamy butter, and broth that isn't too salty. When you're cooking with short-grain rices, note that the proportion of liquid to rice is approximately 4-to-1, compared to the 2-to-1 ratio for cooking long-grain white rice; however, in the pressure cooker, which retains more liquid in the cooking process, the proportion is slightly different. I've given you both methods, because I really want you to fall in love with this risotto, too. (And here's a tip for parents: when preparing this for your kids, call it "yellow cheesy rice." It works for us.)

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November 28, 2014

Spicy turkey, bell pepper and noodle stir-fry

Spicy turkey, bell pepper and noodle stir fry: make it with leftover turkey and lots of heat.

Two things about our typical Thanksgiving feast contribute to my craving for this particular way to use leftovers: the meal is overwhelmingly brown (turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing), and it's overwhelmingly family-friendly and spicy-free. So, after cooking and eating brown food for days, all I want is heat. Spicy heat. Chile pepper heat. And a little bit of bright color. Oh, and noodles. So easy to accomplish with leftover shredded turkey, dried noodles from the pantry, and a few other fridge bits.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, 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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