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April 10, 2014

Beef barley soup recipe (pressure cooker or stove top)

Beef barley soup, made easy in the pressure cooker (or on the stove stop). #soup

Here in Rhode Island, the calendar says Spring, but the thermometer says Not Yet. I drive around looking for places where green might be peeking through, but until a few days ago, lingering patches of ice suppressed most of the crocuses, daffodils and fiddlehead ferns. The rainy, raw weather of early April puts me in the mood for soups like this traditional beef barley. I'm having a lot of fun learning how to use my first-ever electric pressure cooker, which is my new preferred method for making this soup, though I've included directions for making it on the stove. In the pressure cooker, the small chunks of beef and barley cook to perfect tenderness in just ten minutes at high pressure. Thick and chewy beef barley soup, a standard in New York delicatessens, has been a favorite of mine since childhood. This version is better than any you'll find in a deli. I promise.

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April 1, 2014

Recipe for spaghetti squash with cashew basil pesto and white beans {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Spaghetti squash with cashew basil pesto and white beans, from The Perfect Pantry.

If I had mad Photoshop skills, I could turn this dish bright green. Scary green, even. Fortunately, I don't have that ability, and anyway, I want you to see how this luscious spaghetti squash really looks once it's been tossed in pesto and sits for a few minutes. Not gorgeous, I admit, but the garlicky aroma and melty cheese and crunchy cashews and creamy beans, all together, more than make up for the color. I'm rediscovering spaghetti squash, a low-calorie alternative to pasta, and a vegetable plentiful in the market at least three seasons of the year. Although I've been cooking spaghetti squash in my new pressure cooker, you can bake it in the oven, and either method works perfectly in this dish. It's not yet fresh basil season here in New England, so you have my permission to substitute good quality store-bought pesto if necessary. If you're not vegetarian and want to tuck a bit of shredded cooked chicken or shrimp in here, you have my permission to do that, too.

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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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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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