Until I moved to Rhode Island, I'd never heard of coffee syrup. (It's like Hershey's chocolate syrup, except made from coffee. If that helps.) The state drink, coffee milk, combines coffee syrup with, well, milk, and the favorite iced treat, a coffee cabinet, is a milkshake made with coffee ice cream and coffee syrup. Sweet, sweet, sweet. When I met up with my friend Jen of Savor the Thyme at Dave's Coffee, in the opposite end of the state, I bought a bottle of their all-natural coffee syrup, and couldn't resist experimenting with some savory recipes. I packed this slow cooker coffee-chipotle pulled chicken into a piece of oat-bran lavash bread with some lettuce and this smoky spicy cole slaw. That's a lot of Rhode Island goodness rolled up into one great sandwich. Not to worry: you can make this in your own kitchen even if you don't have our coffee syrup. Or you can come to my kitchen and I'll make it for you.
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I'm glad you can't really tell from my photographs that these turkey pesto meatball sliders look a bit, well... green-ish. Yes, the meatballs are wearin' the green for St Patrick's Day, thanks to a good bit of garlicky basil pesto that perks up both the color and the flavor. I formed the meatballs with a two-inch ice cream scoop, a perfect fit for my favorite slider buns, but they'd be equally delicious in a smaller size, tossed with some pasta, garlic and olive oil. It takes just a few minutes to make your own pesto, or you can use good-quality store-bought pesto, if that's what you have in your pantry. Like all of the many turkey meatball variations I've shared here in The Perfect Pantry, these pesto meatballs freeze well, so whip up a double batch when you have time, and store the cooked, cooled meatballs in ziploc bags for easy worknight dinners or party fare.
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To get to the trains in Boston's Back Bay Station, you navigate between two of those famous Northeast donut shops and a vendor selling Jamaican meat patties from his cart. On most days I can resist the temptation of lattes and chocolate glazed doughnuts, but the aroma of curry wafting from that cart pulls me in. The last time I walked through the station, I promised I would make Jamaican meat patties for you. Though I prefer mine with extra-lean ground beef, you can substitute freely with ground chicken or turkey, pork or even goat, which is a Caribbean favorite. The filling comes together quickly from ingredients you already have in your pantry, and to make it even easier, use store-bought discos (empanada dough), another pantry staple, for the wrapping. If you have time, make a double or triple batch. Freeze them after they're baked, and reheat in a warm oven whenever you're ready to serve. These tasty little hand pies make a great take-to-work lunch, and a popular party appetizer.
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To tell you my husband Ted and I loved these quesadillas would be an understatement. So, I'll just tell you that we devoured them three days in a row, which, if you have lots and lots of turkey leftovers, is a good thing to know. Pull out any shredded cheese you have in your freezer, any salsa (or chutney, or even leftover cranberry sauce) from the fridge, and any type of tortillas you have on hand; I love these habanero-lime tortillas from Trader Joe's, which are both orange and spicy. Cook the kale with salsa or sofrito to give it a bit of a kick, and you have a quesadilla so good you'll forget you're eating Thanksgiving leftovers.
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In Boston's South End neighborhood, where my husband Ted and I moved more than thirty years ago, almost every corner used to boast a spa (Boston-speak for an all-purpose market), or a Middle Eastern grocery, or a bar. The bars have long since closed -- many replaced by the fine restaurants that now define the South End -- and, sadly, most of the Middle Eastern businesses have gone, too. The spas endure, and almost every one that offers prepared food sells a basic, uninspired, too-much-mayo chicken salad. My new chicken salad recipe with walnuts and celery features a pomegranate-harissa yogurt sauce that reminds me of the wonderful ingredients I used to buy at the local Middle Eastern markets. It's sweet and tangy, and as spicy as you want to make it, perfect in a sandwich or lettuce wrap. If I owned a spa in the neighborhood, I'd make this my signature chicken salad.
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