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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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December 28, 2014

Mango-jalapeño turkey meatballs

Healthy baked mango-jalapeno turkey meatballs. #appetizer

For the past few years, before he retired, my husband Ted spent several nights each week in Boston, where he had no kitchen save for a tiny fridge and microwave. So, for the past few years, I would cook on the weekends and send him off for the week with bags and containers of frozen food, including tons of turkey meatballs. Ted's favorite way to eat them was in a bowl of crispy salad, which I have to admit tasted pretty good. One week, I hadn't cooked anything, and he'd run out of frozen meatballs, so we headed to the market and found mango-jalapeño chicken meatballs. Oh, so good. After all, they were loaded with sweet mango and brown sugar! I decided to adapt the concept to my basic turkey meatball formula, by adding a bit more heat and reducing the sugar. Ted loved these little sweet-hot meatballs in his salad; I served them as an appetizer, alongside chunks of crunchy jicama. I think they'd make a great starter at a New Year's Eve party. Look for cans of mango nectar in the Latin foods aisle at the grocery store.

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December 10, 2014

Pressure cooker split pea soup with (or without) sausage

Split pea soup (with or without sausage), made easy in the pressure cooker.

In my dinged-up, bright red, cast-iron Dutch oven, I make a pretty mean pot of split pea soup, which just happens to be my very favorite comfort food on days when there's snow to be shoveled. Or when I have the sniffles. Or when I'm craving soup, which really does happen. I've been making split pea soup the same way forever, until this year, when I first tried it in my electric pressure cooker. Oh my oh my. The pressure cooker traps all of the flavor, and softens the split peas so the immersion blender simply has to nudge them into silkiness. Compared to my stove top version, and despite using the exact same ingredients, the pressure cooker version is downright ethereal. Add your favorite mild or spicy sausage, or not; I love this soup either way. It's a great make-ahead-and-freeze soup for your winter soup swaps, or quick worknight dinners with a green salad and crusty bread on the side. And if you don't have a pressure cooker, you can make split pea soup on the stove top or in the slow cooker.

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November 23, 2014

Turkey soup with black beans, corn, and green chiles {gluten-free}

Turkey soup with black beans, corn and green chiles: great way to use leftovers. #Thanksgiving

Of all the many soups I've made (and after all, I'm still known as the Soup Chick, so you know I've made a few), I believe this is the best-tasting, weirdest-colored leftover turkey soup I've ever shared with you. Most of the time I make recipes like this one with tomato or chipotle peppers, which lend a gorgeous red tint to the base. In this tomato-free version, green chiles and green Tabasco turn the soup a color akin to dishwater. Do not be deterred! Trust me, and give your leftover turkey (or shredded rotisserie chicken or turkey, if you're not making it during the holiday season) a bit of Tex-Mex flair. If you've had time to make your own turkey stock, great. If not, store-bought low-sodium chicken stock will be fine. Proportions aren't very important, so use more or less of the ingredients, to your taste. The soup freezes well, for easy worknight dinners or a soup swap. I toasted some habañero-lime tortilla wedges to serve on the side. You can crack open a bag of tortilla chips, too.

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Welcome to The Perfect Pantry®

  • 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. Thanks so much for visiting.

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