The older I get, the more I understand the importance of breakfast. Eating first thing in the morning never has come naturally to me; when I was younger, I seldom ate before noon, and even now, I usually need to work for a few hours before I can face anything more substantial than coffee. Egg and cheese breakfast muffins, made ahead and stored in the refrigerator, give me the protein boost that sees me through the day. And, like quiche or frittata, these muffins taste delicious with any mix-ins: green chiles, slow-roasted tomatoes, bell peppers, fresh herbs, smoked salmon or bacon or turkey sausage. Raid the fridge and have fun. Some day, I might learn to love breakfast. After all, I already love breakfast muffins.
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Here in Rhode Island, when snow is on the way, everyone runs to the store for milk and bread. My pantry always holds a full complement of Asian condiments, plus several types of rice to steam up in my little rice cooker, so I run to the store for fresh ingredients to mix and match in enough stir-fry dishes to see us through any storm. This recipe takes one of my basic stir-fry sauces and gives it a twist with the addition of peanut butter. The amount of Sriracha makes this moderately spicy, so adjust for your own heat tolerance. These days, you can find Sriracha in most grocery stores, but if you don't have it on hand, a few red pepper flakes will stand in nicely.
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In a million years, I never thought I'd write (or even think) these words: I love bacon jam. (Generations of my family are wringing their hands. I can't see them, but I know.) I don't eat a lot of bacon, I don't like fruit jams or jellies, and I don't have a sweet tooth, but bacon jam tastes more like chutney, a bit of sweet and a bit of salty, and makes a perfect pairing with cheese. The panini put me in mind of the ploughman's lunch served in every pub in Britain: cheese, chutney, crusty bread, and sometimes a sausage. I used small ciabatta rolls for instant portion control, because believe me, you can get carried away with this combination of jam and cheese, but any crusty bread will do.
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When you have a few cookbooks (okay, a few hundred cookbooks), only a few of your friends and family will chance giving you cookbooks for the holidays. My lovely friend Laura gave me Nirmala's Edible Diary, and right away I marked a dozen recipes to try. This Peruvian-inspired quinoa turkey meatloaf called for ingredients in my pantry, plus some basil, which I happened to have on hand for another dish. The original recipe includes chives, which are dead as can be in my garden at this time of year, and it doesn't call for ketchup, which really rounds out the flavor.
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