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Many years ago, my husband Ted and I participated in a potluck Thanksgiving dinner. Being from out of town, we were asked to bring something easy, carrots and celery for a dip. However, when we arrived, we realized that our celery was the only bit of green on the entire holiday table. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, onions: all brown. No green vegetables, and no salad. Our own holiday menus feature plenty of green along with the traditional bird and sides. We always serve salad, and at least one green vegetable. Here are some of our favorites, to consider as you're putting the finishing touches on your own menu. Two of our favorite green vegetables together, Brussels and broccoli with maple mustard vinaigrette (top photo) brings... Read more →


Julia Child & Company, by Julia Child (1978) Why I've kept it: Who better to see us through the holidays -- through every day -- than Julia? And who better to teach us how to entertain all year long, without getting tied up in knots? My husband Ted and I have tackled some ambitious entertaining dishes in our kitchen over the years. One of the fanciest was a recipe from this book, a chicken melon (boned and stuffed chicken in its own skin, filled with chicken paté, forced into the shape of a melon with a judicious application of cheesecloth and twine. It took two of us to accomplish what Julia made look so easy, but without her gentle voice and encouragement throughout the recipe,... Read more →


For as long as I can remember, I've been a muffin fan. I love that you don't have to share a muffin. I love that you can eat all of the bottom first, and save the top (the best part) for last. I love the built-in portion control. On the holiday table, mini muffins provide just a few bites of sweetness. And nobody has to share. My family loves these apple raisin walnut spice muffins (top photo), which can be made ahead, though you'll have to hide them to make sure they last until the holiday meal. Almost anything with apple has a place on my Thanksgiving table. I serve these instead of bread, as part of the main course, but you could save them... Read more →


Can you imagine Thanksgiving without butternut squash on the table? Perhaps because it's creamy, and perhaps because it's orange, butternut squash always finds its way onto my holiday menu, whether as a vegetarian main dish, a side dish, in soup or salad, or in pie. As you put the finishing touches on your own holiday menu, consider some of these favorites from The Perfect Pantry's kitchen. Start your meal with soup, as we love to do. Curried squash and apple soup (top photo) can be made ahead, which is a plus for the cook, and brings apples to the table right at the start. An alternative, if your family doesn't love curry, could be this squash, sweet potato and carrot soup. Another great soup option,... Read more →


When we moved from log house to city apartment, I downsized my large cookbook collection, and kept fewer than 100 cookbooks. What made the cut, and why? The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups: Recipes and Reveries, by David Ansel (2005) Why I've kept it: When my spirit is in need of lifting, I make soup, and when I'm feeling particularly low, I open The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups and read a random chapter while my soup burbles in the pot. And I feel restored. And because I want you to feel restored, too, please indulge while I share this passage from the book's introduction: This book is about...how the mundane aspects of life, such as food and work, can be utterly consuming... Read more →


When you think of the traditional foods of the Alsace-Lorraine region of northeast France, on the border with Germany, you think of quiche Lorraine, of course, and cabbage, and sausages and mustard. And thick, chewy, buttery egg noodles. Comfort food to the max. However, we're all about the pantry, so when the urge for a dinner inspired by the flavors of Alsace-Lorraine struck, I pulled some smoked chicken-and-apple sausage (it comes fully cooked) from the refrigerator, plus shredded cabbage (cole slaw mix) and Dijon mustard. And ramen noodles. I know -- not exactly traditional, but trust me, the ramen worked, and made this dish nice and light and curly. I cooked the noodles separately (you could do this way ahead, even the day before), and... Read more →


Chicken parm without breadcrumbs, without egg, without oil or butter, without sacrificing any of the flavor: seems too good to be true, doesn't it? And yet, here it is. A few kitchen tricks make this healthier version of chicken parmigiana possible. Start with thin-sliced, nearly fat-free boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the grocery store, or slice regular chicken breasts in thirds, and pound them to 1/4-inch thin. Use sun-dried tomatoes, or your own slow-roasted tomatoes, for concentrated flavor on the inside, and tuck in a leaf of the freshest basil you can find or pick from the garden. Skip the flour-egg-breadcrumb coating, to keep this chicken parm healthy, low-carb, and gluten-free. I love that these little chicken rolls have built-in portion control, and that you... Read more →