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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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February 24, 2013

Chicken tortilla casserole recipe

Chicken tortilla casserole: make ahead and freeze.

Most of the time, I'm not the person who encourages you to open a bunch of cans and call it cooking. Today, I'm that person. Some regional ingredients, like the enchilada sauce and roasted green chiles in this chicken tortilla casserole, are hard to find in my part of the world in any other form, and if that's your situation, you have my permission to reach for your can opener. Although I call this a tortilla casserole, the recipe only calls for two tortillas -- oat bran tortillas, which are low in calories and carbs. Swap in your favorite whole grain tortillas, but don't omit them; they keep everything else from collapsing before the casserole cooks through. For an easy worknight dinner, use a rotisserie chicken or any leftover cooked chicken. You can prep the chicken-and-bean filling a few days in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Then, when you're ready to serve the casserole, assemble the layers with tortillas and cheese, and bake. Serve with traditional tortilla toppings like chunks of avocado and sour cream on the side.

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February 17, 2013

Four favorite ways to use smoked paprika

Four of my favorite recipes that use Spanish smoked paprika (The Perfect Pantry).

How does an ingredient earn its way onto The Perfect Pantry's permanent shelf space? One of two ways: It must be something I use in many recipes, or something indispensable to one treasured recipe I make over and over again. The premise of this blog always has been to encourage you to buy an ingredient called for in one recipe by promising to share more ways to use that ingredient. Have you tried smoked paprika yet?

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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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