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December 22, 2013

Sweet Rhode Island coffee-dunked turkey appetizer meatballs recipe (slow cooker)

Sweet coffee (decaf!) meatballs, made in the slow cooker. (The Perfect Pantry)

Did you grow up in a meatball house? In the house where I grew up, there were two kinds of meatballs: big red ones, cooked in sauce made with a packet of Spatini, and small sweet-and-sour ones, made by my dad in nothing smaller than five-pound batches. Never did we have anything approaching the sheer nirvana of these sweet Rhode Island coffee-dunked turkey appetizer meatballs. This recipe, from my e-book A Flock of Meatballs: Easy turkey recipes with around-the-world flavors, pretty much requires that you buy a bottle of real Rhode Island coffe syrup (my favorite local product, hands down, is Dave's All-Natural Decaf Coffee Syrup), used to make Rhode Island's official state drink, coffee milk. You can substitute strong brewed decaf coffee plus molasses, and it will be good, though not authentically Rhody. These meatballs freeze so well that you might want to double the quantity, and stash some for last-minute holiday appetizers.

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December 19, 2013

Slow cooker vegan black bean and sweet potato stew recipe {vegan, gluten-free}

Gorgeous black bean and sweet potato stew, vegan & gluten-free.

Around the holidays, we're never quite sure who will drop in, or when, or how long they might stay. One thing we do know is that everyone must be fed, and fed in holiday style. Vegetarians and vegans merit special attention in our household, because there are so many of them, and I always have a batch of this vegan black bean and sweet potato stew made ahead and stashed in the freezer. Like all stews, this one tastes better when made a bit ahead, and the slow cooker does most of the work, so it's perfect for holiday entertaining. The vibrant colors and bright citrus-accented flavors appeal to all ages, and make this stew a great side dish or main course. I like to serve it with wedges of polenta, but it would be great over rice or noodles, too.

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December 8, 2013

Slow cooker barbecue beef brisket recipe

Slow cooker barbecue beef brisket sandwich.

If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing until you get it right. That's true in life, in work, and in brisket. The goal? A bit of that plate-staining, chin-dripping, smoky sauce and the burnt ends that come with real barbecue, combined with the ease of the slow cooker. After a few tries, I think I nailed it. Two techniques enhance the barbecue-like quality. First, I cut the large brisket into four smaller pieces, which gave more edge to brown. Second, when the meat was cooked, I let it cool, uncovered, on the kitchen counter; the edges dried out, making it more like burnt ends from the barbecue. I sliced half of the brisket, and shredded the other half, and doused both with the sauce from the slow cooker. Drippy barbecue, tender brisket, "burnt" ends: done and done.

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October 17, 2013

Chili powder (Recipe: turkey tacos)

First published in August 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos and links. We love this spicy turkey filling in tacos, on salads, or as the topping for a rice bowl with a dollop of guacamole and a big plop of sour cream. 

Super easy turkey tacos.

Some like it hot.

I like it really hot.

I like it hot enough to make my scalp tingle, my sinuses drip, and my eyes water. (Do I need to mention that I'm talking about food now, not the weather?) I wasn't always like this, but a trip to New Orleans years ago started me down the pepper path, and there is no turning back.

Sometimes, though, unadulterated heat isn't the goal. When I want a more complex depth of flavor in Mexican and Southwestern dishes, I often reach for chili powder.

Are you confused by the whole chili/chile thing? Many people are, and product packaging doesn't really help, with the willy-nilly and often interchangeable use of chile, chili, chillie and chilli.

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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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