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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 16, 2014

Chocolate chocolate-chip mini muffins recipe

Chocolate chocolate chip mini muffins (The Perfect Pantry).

Dear readers, I blame you for the fact that these bite-size chocolate muffins materialized in my kitchen last weekend. I'm sorry, but I do. I've been systematically emptying the house of all quick-and-easy sweet nibbles like chocolate bars and M&Ms, because of late my willpower has been absent. So, last Sunday afternoon when my chocolate craving hit hard, there was no candy in the house; however, I found both cocoa powder and chocolate chips in the pantry. Uh-oh. Before I could reroute myself toward the celery sticks, it occured to me that you, dear readers, would love some chocolate muffins (I wasn't wrong, was I?). Of course I needed to taste a few to be absolutely certain they were worthy of you. They were -- I'm sure, because I tasted plenty of them -- and they were super-easy to make without a mixer. The recipe will make 12-14 large muffins, but I'm glad for the built-in portion control of mini muffins when self-control fails me.

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March 15, 2014

The Pantry Quiz #78

Colmans dry mustard

Multiple Choice

You're in the middle of a recipe and -- gasp! -- you've run out of dry mustard, which adds a certain something that you don't want to omit from the dish. Which of the following ingredients on your spice rack would make the best substitute for dry mustard?

1. Curry powder
2. Wasabi powder
3. Turmeric
4. Annatto

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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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