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The Perfect Pantry's top 11 recipes of 2011


At the end of every year, when I compile my list of The Perfect Pantry's top recipes, I set some criteria for my choices. This year, I measured each recipe against just one factor: did we lick the plate clean?

Each of these eleven recipes passed the clean-plate test, and left us wanting seconds.

Kung pao chicken, a restaurant favorite, makes use of my well-stocked Asian pantry. You can kung pao anything -- shrimp, beef, tofu -- using the same seasonings and technique. My cooking assistant, Kathy, who doesn't love spicy food, couldn't get enough of this.


Throughout the summer and Fall, I made this broccoli slaw salad with cranberries, almonds and yogurt dressing at least once a week, for my husband Ted and me, and for every potluck and picnic. It's the perfect companion to grilled chicken or turkey.


Spicy and salty, this miso-Sriracha glazed salmon tickled every one of our taste buds. I made four portions, and Ted and I ate them all. It's that good.


Last summer Chelsea, my intern, and I fell in love with this spicy tuna and avocado ceviche with a bit of Sriracha. I'm so glad my local fishmonger sells sushi-grade tuna year-round, because I've made it many times since.


Susan, a long-time reader, sent me the recipe for the chickpea, quinoa and spinach salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette that became an instant favorite, making good use of the jar of preserved lemons I always have in my refrigerator.


I could make a meal of rice and beans, especially the Cuban-style moros y cristianos. With a jar of sofrito from the supermarket, and pre-cooked rice and beans, this quick and easy black beans and rice comes together in minutes.


It's not often that I toss over a lifelong favorite for a new love, but this lemon-dill egg salad won my heart the first time I tasted it. Lemon: who'd have thunk it?


Though I no longer eat much beef, I couldn't resist trying my own Northern version of green chile cheeseburgers this summer. Chelsea and I made them slider size, with a spicy slather and cheese inside and out. Simply irresistible.


Just before Thanksgiving, Kathy and I decided to try roasting carrots the same way we roast potatoes. Not a huge fan of cooked carrots, I gave these oven roasted carrots two thumbs up for their sweet insides and just enough crunch on the outside.


I don't often call a dish "the world's best", so you know that the world's best bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich had to be something special. Homemade basil mayonnaise kicked this everyday sandwich up a few hundred notches, and the mayo-in-a-jar method was fun, too.


Apple crisp wontons might not be my personal favorite (I'm more of a cookie gal), but they were your favorite. Easy to make, best served warm and sprinkled with powdered sugar, these are a treat at any time of year.

So, those are my top 11 recipes of 2011, recipes that use what we already have in our pantries. Did I forget any of your favorites?

Thank you for being here to share these dishes with my family, Kathy, Chelsea and our taste-testing friends. More recipes to come in 2012!

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Waaaay too many great choices here, so I'll just pick the best 2 out of the line up for me!

I'll start with the Kung pao chicken, then for dessert, I'll have the apple crisp wontons!

I think that Kung pao chicken is in my top 5 favorite foods!

They all look good! What a tasty year! Happy New Year!

My favorite sentence: "You can kung pao anything" LOL- I must try that recipe ASAP!

Happy happy new year, dear Lydia! I hope 2012 brings you an abundance of joy and good eats. Thank you for sharing your wonderful writing and recipes with us.

Lydia, everyone of these photos has me drooling - so many recipes to put on my list to try. Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Yes, I would lick the plate clean on all of these too!

Lydia, They all look great! Not a good idea to view them on an empty stomach though. Got the juices flowing.

Oh goodness, that kung pao chicken would be on my menu every week. Happy New Year, Lydia!

Curt, I admit that I'm partial to the kung pao chicken, also.

Maria, it was a tasty year! Happy new year to you.

Nupur, if you kung pao anything other than tofu, please let me know! Wishing you and your expanding family a wonderful, healthy, and joyous new year.

Jeanette, thanks so much. (I noticed this year when I did my best-of list that the photos have improved since last year -- I've been working at that.) Wishing your family a happy, happy new year.

Kalyn, I could have added a few more clean-plate dishes to this list, too!

Theresa, reading food blogs before breakfast can be very dangerous. I know.... I do it every morning!

Andrea, the hardest thing about the kung pao chicken is stocking up on condiments. Once you have them, it's very tempting to make this every week. Happy new year to you and all of your boys, too!

I keep scrolling back up to see those Apple Crisp Wontons -- Oh. Yum. And the salmon really called to me too. What a beautiful, tasty year in the kitchen!

I now have a new Mac and so am able to comment once again on my favourite blogs. Yay! A great time to step in with your top recipes of 2012. I know there will be so many more!

Great recipes! Happy new year!

Sarah, the apple crisp wontons were definitely the fan favorite this year. Your kids will love them.

Bellini, welcome to the wonderful world of Mac! Hope you have a happy new year.

Jersey Girl, thanks! Wishing you a wonderful 2012.

What a fabulous list--I must make the ceviche! And probably the chickpeas...and the wontons...

I am loving these best of series on everyones blogs!

I'm inspired by the list, and train of thought sent me back to the garlic eggplant from 2007 (another very good year). And the preserved lemons, sort of a blessing and a curse! Thank you for giving me credit for more than I deserve!
Here's to a tasty, satisfying and very healthy new year.

I am slowly catching up with reading my favorite blogs (whoever suggested moving during holiday season has to be shot - but it was me, unfortunately:) and I love this post!
I have a jar of preserved Meyer lemons in my fridge and I love the idea of using them in a vinaigrette.
Thanks for inspiring me for so many years! Happy New Year!

Wonderful! They all look so yummy. I can't wait to see what's in store for 2012!

What a great "best of". I'm looking forward to trying out the slaw and the quinoa chickpea salad, and not to mention your little apple "pies/crisps". Thanks for sending me this page!

Yup! I'd lick the plate clean, too. Every one.

Wow Lydia, now I have to try them all! Each one is more mouthwatering than the next! I thought to myself "Oh, I'll find 2, maybe 3 I can gush over...." but boy they all look fabulous! Thanks for the recipes - I am pretty good at baking the desserts but so bad at cooking meals for my family and you just gave me 10 meals. Happy Happy New Year!

Lydia, I almost never make New Year's resolutions - but I think that this year, your list has become my resolution :-)

I know it's not from this year, but I have to give a shout-out to your South End Deep Root Chili, which I have made many times and is always delicious (and abundant). Also, I expect your red rice salad with roasted beets, sun-dried tomatoes, cherries and nuts to become a favorite very soon!

Happy New Year, dear Lydia! Thank you for all the inspiration and community you send out all year long.

Angela, the ceviche is really, really good. Really!

Pam, it's a fun time of year on the food blogs, isn't it?

Susan, thank you for sharing your recipe, and for reading and supporting The Perfect Pantry for all these years. I am truly grateful.

Lana, thank you for the lovely, lyrical stories and recipes you share on your blog.

Krista, anything particular you'd like to see? Any ingredients in the pantry you'd like recipes for?

France, thanks so much. I love the blogs you share with me, too.

Katie, it wasn't always pretty, our licking the plates, but it was delicious!

Jamie, we need to cook together. You make the most spectacular cakes and pastries! I'll bring the savory.

Judy, I love cooking and writing when I know there are people like you who read these little posts. I am grateful beyond measure.

aren't "best of" lists the best?! I will take one of the "world's best BLTs" please....

Hehe on licking the plate clean--great criteria!! I'm intrigued by your preserved lemons in the fridge and those oven roasted carrots. ;-)

Happy 2012 officially!!

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