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October 17, 2013

Chili powder (Recipe: turkey tacos)

First published in August 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos and links. We love this spicy turkey filling in tacos, on salads, or as the topping for a rice bowl with a dollop of guacamole and a big plop of sour cream. 

Super easy turkey tacos.

Some like it hot.

I like it really hot.

I like it hot enough to make my scalp tingle, my sinuses drip, and my eyes water. (Do I need to mention that I'm talking about food now, not the weather?) I wasn't always like this, but a trip to New Orleans years ago started me down the pepper path, and there is no turning back.

Sometimes, though, unadulterated heat isn't the goal. When I want a more complex depth of flavor in Mexican and Southwestern dishes, I often reach for chili powder.

Are you confused by the whole chili/chile thing? Many people are, and product packaging doesn't really help, with the willy-nilly and often interchangeable use of chile, chili, chillie and chilli.

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September 5, 2013

Recipe for roasted shrimp tacos with avocado peach salsa

Roasted shrimp tacos with avocado peach salsa.

Here in New England, summer -- and everything in the garden -- comes crashing down, literally, in the first two weeks of September. Ripe peaches plop from the trees, and we hurry to scoop the last tomatoes off the vines before they fall and rot. No one wants to give up on summer, so if you're in denial, like I am, try these roasted shrimp tacos with ultra-fresh avocado peach salsa. Juicy tomatoes and peaches, and creamy avocado, dribble down your chin, in a way that makes you believe that summer can go on forever. I always have shrimp in my freezer, but if you have scallops or salmon or other mild fresh fish, go ahead and substitute. A few pickled jalapeños on top, or extra cilantro, would be great. Pack these tacos to go, for an end-of-summer beach party or picnic.

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August 4, 2013

Dried black beans (Recipe: moros y cristianos/Cuban black beans and rice) {vegan, gluten-free}

First published in August 2007, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Though it's been many years since I enjoyed moros y cristianos in Cuba, this version of black beans and rice, from one of Havana's most famous restaurants, remains my favorite, and it's perfect for Meatless Monday.

Moros y cristianos (Cuban black beans and rice, with garlic and lime).

Way back when -- we're talking decades ago -- my best friend Joyce had a boyfriend named Tom, who had a series of uninspired jobs to support his dream of hosting a public-radio show about military history.

The jobs, all odd and of fairly short duration, were entirely forgettable. All but one, which involved the packaging of glass stopper-topped jars, presumably for storing chemicals, as the tops were quite tight-fitting. The jars came in a whole range of heights, from just a couple of inches to, well, spaghetti length.

Now you see where this is going.

Of course Joyce and I began to stockpile the jars Tom would bring home (Were they seconds or damaged? We never knew.), and we would fill them with pasta, nuts, peppers, M&Ms, and beans and pulses of every imaginable size and color. No matter that we could spend a lifetime soaking and cooking all of the beans we collected. We were "evolving" (i.e., decorating) our kitchens with beautifully filled glass jars.

Of all the beans, my favorite, then and now, are dried black beans.

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July 21, 2013

Recipe for slow cooker Sloppy Joe beef quesadillas

Slow cooker Sloppy Joe beef quesadillas. So easy!

Some dishes will never win a beauty contest. These slow cooker Sloppy Joe beef quesadillas may not take the swimsuit competition, but oh, they are good. And, like real Sloppy Joes, they're sufficiently messy to eat. You can cook the meat ahead of time, in your slow cooker, and freeze it in portions to fill quesadillas, tacos or burritos, whenever you want them. Add something green -- chopped avocado, lettuce, cilantro leaves -- or serve them with nothing more than melted cheese, and a bit of salsa on top. Summer should be just that easy.

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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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