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July 22, 2015

Burgers, burgers, burgers! The Perfect Pantry's favorites for summer grilling

Nothing beats an old-fashioned cheeseburger!

Nothing tops a juicy cheeseburger cooked to perfection on the grill. Nothing. I'm pretty sure I'd opt for a burger over my favorite jambalaya or garlic chicken skewers for my last meal. I love turkey burgers, and salmon burgers, and the occasional veggie burger, but at heart I'm a purist and adore my dribble-down-the-chin beef burgers. However, when it comes to toppings, I'm open to new ideas. Salsa and avocado, feta cheese, hummus -- I'll try it. How about you? Are you open-minded when it comes to burgers?

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July 19, 2015

Slow cooker Greek chicken roll-ups with tomato, olives and feta cheese

Shredded Greek chicken, made easy in the slow cooker, piles into tortilla wraps with tomato, olives and feta.

For the past three months, I've made a batch of this slow cooker Greek chicken at least once a week. From the first bite, it's been a family favorite, used for filling pitas, mixing in salads, or topping a pizza. The method is simple: start building flavor with Greek seasoning (my favorite Greektown "Billygoat" Seasoning comes from The Spice House) and then add more of each of the individual ingredients like oregano, lemon zest, and pepper to bump up it up even more. Bind the ingredients together with a bit of olive oil, and let the slow cooker do the rest. A quick shredding with two forks (or, as one of my readers suggested, a whir in the KitchenAid stand mixer) yields a large batch of ready-to-use or ready-to-freeze chicken. I love to toss some of this shredded chicken into a baby kale salad, with poppyseed or vinaigrette dressing, or into a chopped vegetable Greek salad. For picnics, roll-ups made with colorful spinach and tomato tortillas are lots of fun, easy to pack and transport, and everyone loves them.

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July 5, 2015

Smoky egg salad lettuce boats with caramelized onions {vegetarian}

Smoky egg salad lettuce boats, a picnic-perfect twist on the classic.

When it comes to egg salad, I'm a straight-up gal. Hard-boiled eggs, really good mayonnaise, black pepper, and nothing more. Oh, occasionally I'll toss in a bit of celery. Perfection. And yet... sometimes, I have to cut loose, and when I do, I turn to my spice rack and pantry for inspiration. The combination of eggs and caramelized onions takes me back to childhood, when my grandmother used to combine the two with chopped liver for the classic Jewish appetizer. I think if she'd had smoked paprika on hand (I'm sure she never heard of it), she might have added a pinch of that as well, because I love how just the tiniest bit of smoky pepper plays off the sweet onions. Depending on whether you like your egg salad with a kick, use mild or hot smoked paprika (it also comes in a bittersweet variety, which is midway between the two on the heat scale). If lettuce boats aren't your thing, stuff this egg salad into a pita or crusty roll, or fold it into a tortilla wrap. You can make all of the components a few hours (or days) ahead, and assemble at the last minute, so it's great for picnics.

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April 15, 2015

Cheese, bacon and guacamole panini

Muenster cheese, bacon and guacamole panini, invented by a food truck!

I didn't invent this sandwich. I wish I'd thought of it, but the truth is that I read about it in the bathroom, where I was flipping through an issue of Boston Magazine. Dubbed "The Green Muenster" in a nod to Boston's Fenway Park and its famous scoreboard wall, The Green Monster, this creation of Roxy's Grilled Cheese Truck sounded so amazing that I had to try my own version. The original is slathered with mayonnaise on the outside, which yields an extra-crispy crust on the bread. I changed it up a bit: thick slices of muenster cheese, bacon, a smear of guacamole, mayonnaise on the inside of the bread, and olive oil on the outside. Salty, creamy, gooey and crunchy, this panini is a truly ethereal meal on its own. If you don't have a panini press, use a stovetop griddle or frying pan, and weight the top of the sandwich with a second frying pan or heavy plate. It's just the kind of comfort food you want on the day your taxes are due.

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April 8, 2015

Egg salad with avocado, jalapeño and lime {vegetarian}

Grown-up egg salad with avocado, jalapeño and lime. Great for roll-ups or lettuce boats. [ThePerfectPantry.com]

After you've eaten your way through all of the sweets and Peeps of the holiday season, you probably have a few leftover hard-boiled eggs languishing in the refrigerator. It doesn't take much to turn those eggs into a truly peppy egg salad, one that absolutely will not remind you of what you found in your grade school lunch box. Here's an egg salad for grown-ups. It's filled with tangy little bites of jalapeño pepper, creamy avocado, and bursts of lime. Fill a roll-up, top some crackers, or serve it in a lettuce leaf. I used a low-carb flatbread one day, and romaine lettuce the next day, and both were equally delicious. Okay, maybe not as delicious as a chocolate bunny, but much healthier, and a fine way to use leftovers. I like to use my egg slicer rather than a knife to make a first pass at the eggs; the eggs won't roll around, and it makes them easier to chop and smoosh with the avocado.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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