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March 30, 2014

Recipe for slow cooker chicken curry with sweet potatoes, tomato and raisins {gluten-free}

Slow cooker chicken curry (The Perfect Pantry).

On its way to becoming a traditional chicken korma -- curry in a tomato and yogurt sauce -- this slow cooker chicken curry veered off the path, and I'm so glad it did. Chicken korma isn't a fiery hot curry like vindaloo, but because I like heat, I used hot curry powder instead of mild. And then I realized I wanted sweet heat, so I added raisins and agave nectar to bring the curry into balance. Like all curries, this dish is very accommodating; if you prefer chicken breast, use that (but cut the cooking time slightly). If you don't like sweet potato, try red-skinned potatoes. Play with the sweet and heat to your own taste by adjusting the curry powder (use mild instead of hot), red pepper flakes (more or less than the recipe specifies), and agave.

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March 23, 2014

Recipe for corned beef with tangy horseradish-mustard sauce (pressure cooker, slow cooker or stovetop)

Corned beef with tangy mustard sauce (The Perfect Pantry).

Growing up not in the St. Patrick's Day tradition, but in the corned-beef-on-rye-at-the-deli tradition, I'm a huge fan of corned beef. Fortunately, right after St. Patrick's Day, corned beef goes on sale in my local supermarket, and I snag a few pieces of low-sodium flat-cut corned beef to stash in the freezer. (Low sodium is the key, so be sure to look for that on the label.) Usually I cook it in the slow cooker, or even on the stove top, but this year I put my new electric pressure cooker to the test. I don't want to brag, but, honestly, this was the best corned beef I've ever made, and it was by far the easiest. No fussing required, ready in under two hours, perfectly tender, not salty, great for sandwiches the next day. All around perfect, with a kick from horseradish in the mustard sauce. Skip the traditional New England boiled dinner of corned beef and soggy vegetables: serve your corned beef with a platter of oven-roasted carrots, cabbage and potatoes, or this roasted cabbage, apple and pecan salad.

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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 13, 2014

Dry beans (Recipe: everything-from-the-pantry bean soup) {vegetarian}

Originally published in December 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe, which I now like to make meatless. You can add some chicken or sausage for your omnivorous eaters.

Everything-from-the-pantry bean soup #vegetarian.

By nature and by habit, I am a decanter.

Not the kind with an hourglass figure (don't I wish?) and a cork stopper.

No, I am a person who decants almost everything in my pantry into clear jars so I can see how much of each item I have on hand. I've never been able to divine, just by looking at a box on the shelf, exactly how much sugar, or rice, or bulgur wheat, is left in the box. The smaller jars, mostly one-quart canning size, hold the things I use in smaller quantities: lentils, cocoa powder, arrowroot, table salt for baking. In medium jars, I keep various kinds of rice, and breakfast cereals. The large jars hold the basics: sugars, kosher salt, flours.

My favorite jars are what I call the amalgamators: the jar that holds leftover odds and ends of dry pasta, and the one that gathers dry beans. I only allow like-minded beans — those that cook in approximately the same time, or have the same texture or color — to cohabit. Today, my bean jar contains red kidneys and Anasazi beans, and a few navy beans hiding at the bottom. At other times, it might have cranberry beans, if I'm lucky enough to find them, or pink pintos.

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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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