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December 22, 2013

Sweet Rhode Island coffee-dunked turkey appetizer meatballs recipe (slow cooker)

Sweet coffee (decaf!) meatballs, made in the slow cooker. (The Perfect Pantry)

Did you grow up in a meatball house? In the house where I grew up, there were two kinds of meatballs: big red ones, cooked in sauce made with a packet of Spatini, and small sweet-and-sour ones, made by my dad in nothing smaller than five-pound batches. Never did we have anything approaching the sheer nirvana of these sweet Rhode Island coffee-dunked turkey appetizer meatballs. This recipe, from my e-book A Flock of Meatballs: Easy turkey recipes with around-the-world flavors, pretty much requires that you buy a bottle of real Rhode Island coffe syrup (my favorite local product, hands down, is Dave's All-Natural Decaf Coffee Syrup), used to make Rhode Island's official state drink, coffee milk. You can substitute strong brewed decaf coffee plus molasses, and it will be good, though not authentically Rhody. These meatballs freeze so well that you might want to double the quantity, and stash some for last-minute holiday appetizers.

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December 19, 2013

Slow cooker vegan black bean and sweet potato stew recipe {vegan, gluten-free}

Gorgeous black bean and sweet potato stew, vegan & gluten-free.

Around the holidays, we're never quite sure who will drop in, or when, or how long they might stay. One thing we do know is that everyone must be fed, and fed in holiday style. Vegetarians and vegans merit special attention in our household, because there are so many of them, and I always have a batch of this vegan black bean and sweet potato stew made ahead and stashed in the freezer. Like all stews, this one tastes better when made a bit ahead, and the slow cooker does most of the work, so it's perfect for holiday entertaining. The vibrant colors and bright citrus-accented flavors appeal to all ages, and make this stew a great side dish or main course. I like to serve it with wedges of polenta, but it would be great over rice or noodles, too.

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December 8, 2013

Slow cooker barbecue beef brisket recipe

Slow cooker barbecue beef brisket sandwich.

If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing until you get it right. That's true in life, in work, and in brisket. The goal? A bit of that plate-staining, chin-dripping, smoky sauce and the burnt ends that come with real barbecue, combined with the ease of the slow cooker. After a few tries, I think I nailed it. Two techniques enhance the barbecue-like quality. First, I cut the large brisket into four smaller pieces, which gave more edge to brown. Second, when the meat was cooked, I let it cool, uncovered, on the kitchen counter; the edges dried out, making it more like burnt ends from the barbecue. I sliced half of the brisket, and shredded the other half, and doused both with the sauce from the slow cooker. Drippy barbecue, tender brisket, "burnt" ends: done and done.

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November 10, 2013

Recipe for slow cooker turkey breast stuffed with ricotta, tomato and basil {gluten-free}

Slow cooker turkey breast stuffed with tomato, ricotta and basil.

Continuing my experiments with cooking boneless turkey breast in the slow cooker, I decided to go back to my roots. No, I'm not Italian, but one of my earliest, and best, experiences as a food writer came courtesy of a well-known Italian-American Boston police officer. I'm pleased to share this reinvention of his recipe for stuffed chicken, which works so perfectly with turkey breast. The slow cooker frees your oven for all those amazing side dishes that taste best when cooked at the last minute, and the slow braise helps retain moisture in the meat. Be sure to buy a turkey breast that hasn't been shot full of salty brine, or stabbed with a plastic pop-up timer. Your butcher will be happy to butterfly it for you; unless you have mad butchering skills, leave this step to the professionals. You can do the rest. Stuff, roll, tie, cook, and collect the oohs and aahs when you bring this turkey to the table.

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November 3, 2013

Recipe for slow cooker turkey breast stuffed with wild rice and cranberries {gluten-free}

Slow cooker turkey breast with wild rice stuffing.

In real life, retail dictates the start of the seasons, which is why Halloween costumes arrive on the shelves in August, and Santa slides down store chimneys in October. In the mail order catalogs, Thanksgiving arrived two months ago, but I'm old-fashioned and wait until the calendar page flips to November. Now it's officially Thanksgiving season, so I offer the first of two recipes for stuffed turkey breast. I began experimenting with turkey breast in the slow cooker last year, when we hosted a very small holiday gathering of people who, it turned out, weren't huge dark meat fans. This gluten-free stuffing packs in all of the flavors of a New England harvest -- apples, thyme and cranberries -- and the slow cooker keeps the meat moist. If you're not buying directly from a farm, be sure to look for an organic turkey breast that hasn't been impregnated with brining solution or stabbed with a plastic pop-up timer. The butcher at my local supermarket's fantastic meat department happily butterflied the turkey breast for me.

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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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